Dozens of real estate agents fanned out across a large portion of Los Angeles County Wednesday afternoon, passing out flyers and looking for leads in the mysterious disappearance of a popular fellow Realtor who’s been missing since last week.
Julia Buchanan “Deede” Keller was last seen on Thursday at her home in El Segundo, a small community on the southern edge of Los Angeles International Airport. El Segundo Police Detective Ken Mulroney says the circumstances surrounding her disappearance are “suspicious.”
Keller is an agent at Shorewood Realtors in nearby Manhattan Beach, one of the trendiest and most expensive communities in L.A.’s popular South Bay. Rick Plank, Keller’s office manager, said she has been representing clients in the area for more than a dozen years.
Shorewood Realtors and its escrow subsidiary are offering a $50,000 reward for information that will help find the missing agent. Plank says that salespeople from Keller’s office, and even many agents from competing offices, have written checks to make the reward fund even larger.
Police Det. Mulroney says Keller, 55, was last seen being dropped off at her home by a date at about 11:30 p.m. last Thursday.
No one was worried when Keller didn’t come into the office on Friday or Saturday, Shorewood’s Plank said, because those are two of the days when the agent is typically busy showing properties and meeting with clients.
But Keller’s son, Michael, told investigators that he became worried after learning his mother had uncharacteristically missed some weekend appointments.
Michael Keller told investigators he drove to his mother’s house on Sunday, and became alarmed after discovering that his mom’s prized dogs had been left unfed, several windows were open, and the TV had been left on.
Julia Keller’s personal items were still in the house, Det. Mulroney said, but her silver 1999 Mercedes-Benz E320–with California license plate number 4ENR010–was missing.
Early yesterday morning, local TV broadcasts seemed to suggest that Keller’s ex-husband might somehow be connected to her disappearance. They divorced last year after five years of marriage, and he left the country on Sunday to visit Bolivia.
Officials from the U.S. State Department briefly detained the ex-husband when he arrived in Bolivia early Monday, according to media reports. But his claim that he was simply traveling to South America to visit a sick relative was accurate, Det. Mulroney said, and neither L.A. nor federal officials are currently planning an airplane flight to South America to further question the ex-husband.
No other leads have been reported.
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