Lawrence police identify homicide victim

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LAWRENCE, Kan. -- On Monday police identified the victim of a homicide as 56-year-old Christine Kaplan. She was found dead when police were sent to her home in the 1100 block of New York Street last Saturday.

On Sunday people in the neighborhood thought Kaplan died because of medical problems, until police told them they were investigating a homicide next door. FOX 4's Megan Brilley spoke with neighbors who knew her.

"We would go down and garden with her," neighbor Destini Howard said.

It became a daily routine for Howard and her siblings. Kaplan lived down the street and would open her door to them, offering popsicles, advice and gardening tips.They say she even let the family live there when their home went up in flames.

But on Saturday, her door that was always propped open was closed.

"She didn't answer her door. We were like oh maybe she's with a friend or something," Howard said.

Little did they know, a woman they called a second mom, was dead. Hours later, neighbors started noticing police and an ambulance. A sight they say wasn't out of the ordinary.

"She was very sick. She had several health problems. She was very thin and had trouble," neighbor Tricia Klein said of Kaplan.

As crime scene unit investigators arrived at the home, neighbors started asking questions and soon realized it was no medical emergency, it was a homicide.

"She was a nice person and whoever did this to her, why did they do it?" neighbor Sarah Turner asked.

It's a question many people around here are asking, ones close to her worry her giving spirit was taken advantage of.

"She had several people staying with her from time to time. Strangers. That's the first thing me and all the kids thought: Who was staying with her this time?" neighbor Shannan Garrett said.

Investigators are searching for clues to find answers to that question and as Howard and her siblings watch, they're hit with a harsh reality.

"It made me sad because I realized wow, I really did miss her. She's gone and I can't see her anymore," Turner said.

Neighbors say most of Kaplan's family lives in California, including her son who is an active-duty Marine.

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