- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 24, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) - An 86-year-old woman who was stabbed to death in her bed in one of Los Angeles’ wealthiest areas was a philanthropist, caretaker of stray cats, and widow of a former judge who was no stranger to controversy.

The body of Antonia Maria Yager was found Monday night by a person who dropped by to help take care of her many cats, authorities said.

“She was a lovely woman,” Yager’s longtime friend, Carolyn Layport, told the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/1sZrRN5). “I respected her almost like a mother figure.”

Another neighbor, Erica Gilbert, called Yager “our cat lady,” recalling how she asked Gilbert for help after rescuing a cat.

Yager, who lived alone among the historic mansions that include the mayor’s official residence, gave frequently to charitable causes, friends said.

She had created a foundation with her husband, former Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Thomas C. Yager, who was 90 when he died in 2008. Yager was appointed to the bench in 1958.

The judge made headlines in 1965 when he reported his first wife had fallen from his boat as they were returning to Los Angeles from their honeymoon on Catalina Island. He didn’t report her missing until he arrived in port, telling authorities the radio on his boat was broken. Her body was never found.

Yager, then 47, had married 61-year-old railroad heiress Eileen Keliher Jeffers four days before she went overboard, according to news reports of the time. He was not charged in her disappearance.

Windsor Square, not far from downtown, hadn’t seen a homicide since 2001.

Police said it’s possible Yager’s home, which sits on a corner, might have been the target of a burglar or home-invasion robber.

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