A 78-year-old man was beaten to death and his wife was critically injured Sunday in an attack that took place in their Rancho Cordova mobile home, authorities said.
Sheriff’s investigators did not release the names of the victim and his wife, who was believed to be the same age as her husband. But neighbors and relatives identified the slain man as Mel Bain, a former Aerojet employee who later worked as a security guard, and his wife as Jean Bain, a woman who had suffered in recent years from dementia that appeared to be getting worse.
Authorities were not sure why the couple were attacked sometime Sunday morning in the mobile home park on Routier Road near Folsom Boulevard, where they had been living for about 30 years, a relative said.
“We can’t tell whether or not it was a burglary or if there had been a forced entry,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Sgt. Lisa Bowman said.
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Investigators, however, are interested in a car that was stolen earlier Sunday from a neighborhood close to where the killing took place. They described it as a 1991, two-door Cadillac Eldorado, maroon with a white top, California license plate number 2XMF374. Detectives said if you see the car, call 911.
Gary O’Connor, 58, who lives in the Briarwood Mobile Home Park where Sunday’s attack took place, identified himself as the nephew of the couple. O’Connor said the Bains became his legal guardians when his own parents died early in his life. He said the Bains had been living in the park since 1983 and that they had a daughter, Debbra, who died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – Lou Gehrig’s disease – in 2011 at age 54.
O’Connor said he received a phone call Sunday morning from a neighbor of the Bains who saw their front door ajar.
“He went in to see if something happened,” O’Connor said, “and he saw him lying there.”
The neighbor called 911 and paramedics found Mel Bain dead inside. They rushed Jean to a local hospital in critical condition with what Bowman described as life-threatening injuries.
Bob Bowen, a neighbor who lives six doors down from the couple, said Jean Bain had some fairly obvious problems related to her dementia that created some issues for the neighbors, but that Mel did his best to take care of her.
“I had to chase her back in the house a couple times,” Bowen said. “She was just bewildered sometimes. Whenever she wanted something, she voiced it out the front door. He used to take her out to lunch every day, to Wendy’s.”
Bowen said it was hard for Mel Bain to take his wife out because “she was wild” and would yell at him when they were out in public.
“She was mostly yelling, ‘Stop this,’ or ‘Stop that,’” Bowen said.
Neighbors said Jean Bain frequently would go outside looking for her husband when he would leave to buy groceries or run other errands, but that she would get confused and lose her way in their mobile home park.
“She’d come out looking for Mel, and she’d be walking around the park, and I’d have to take her home,” said Frank Estrada, who helps his wife, Nancy, run the Briarwood. “Then she’d be out again and I’d take her back. Then Mel would come home.
“He would mostly stay to himself, dealing with her,” Estrada said. “As far as I know, they’re good people.”
Mel Bain enjoyed watching the fights on TV and playing cards with neighbors in front of his home, according to Bowen.
Vince Evans, who lives two doors away from the Bains’ home, said that Mel had been visited in recent days by a young woman who was accompanied by a man who stayed in their car while she went inside.
Evans said there was something about the visit that “looked strange” to him. Other neighbors buzzed with rumored characterizations of the woman and Mel Bain’s relationship with her, who the man in the car was, and what he was doing with her.
Bowman, the sheriff’s spokeswoman, said the investigation was in its early stages and it was too soon to say if the alleged mystery woman figured into the slaying.
Nancy Estrada, the park manager, described the Briarwood as a mixture of people like the Bains who had lived there for 30 or 40 years or more and newer residents who were just getting the feel of a place that appeared clean, neat, friendly and safe.
Sheriff’s detectives and criminalists interviewed witnesses and processed the mobile home for forensic evidence while Mel’s body was still inside. Meanwhile, a baby shower was taking place in the park’s community room not even 50 yards from the homicide scene.
“It’s hard,” Nancy Estrada said. “This is a community. It’s a family. Some people have just moved in, some have lived here forever. So far, they’re sad, and they don’t’know what’s going on for sure. But they’re sad. It’s not a good day for a baby shower.”