UPDATED: Officials: elderly man found dead inside burning West Covina home was stabbed to death; fire ruled arson

WEST COVINA — An autopsy has determined that an 82-year-old West Covina man found dead inside his burning house last week was stabbed to death.

Firefighters discovered the body of Ralph Simonian shortly after 11 a.m. Nov. 15 after responding to a fire at his home in the 900 block of Holiday Drive, investigators said. The fire was later determined to be arson.

Firefighters forced their way into the flaming home before finding Simonian unconscious in a room toward the rear of the house. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

But he did not die as a result of the fire, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.

“It was ruled as multiple stab wounds: homicide,” he said.

No suspects were in custody in connection with the killing, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. Further details on the circumstances of the slaying were not released.

An investigation by the Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Detail found the cause of the fire was arson, Sgt. Mike Costleigh said.

He referred further inquiries to sheriff’s homicide investigators, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Family members also could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The home was well-involved with flames when firefighters arrived and took about 30 minutes to extinguish the fire, officials said.

Neighbor Paramjiet Sandhu, 63, said he was stunned and baffled to learn Simonian, who neighbors knew as “Roy,” had been intentionally slain.
“I cannot imagine who would do that to him,” Sandhu said. “He was an extremely nice guy. He was such a sweet man.”

Sandhu said he’d lived next-door to Simonian for the past 24 years.

A retired owner of a manufacturing company, Simonian had been living alone in the home following the death of his wife, Stephanie, known to neighbors as “Stevie,” years back, Sandhu said.

“They were both very good people,” he said.

Ralph Simonian was a quiet man who largely kept to himself, he added. Despite his age, he remained very active and was often seen doing yardwork or driving his car, the neighbor said.

“It’s just very sad. We’re going to miss Roy. We really are,” Sandhu said.

“I hope he gets justice. I truly do.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

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