Hermosa Beach homicide victim remembered as a colorful, vibrant, active woman
A South Bay family that lost a member to gun violence nearly 13 years ago mourned another loss Friday, remembering a Hermosa Beach woman shot to death in an apparent murder-suicide as vibrant, colorful and “everything that any good person would be like.”
A day after Vantha Tho, 35, was killed in her rented room, apparently by a former boyfriend who then took his own life, Tho’s sister and brother tried to make sense of it and the pain that has affected their lives. In 2003, their 21-year-old brother — an aspiring musician —died in a shooting in Long Beach.
“It broke my heart having to think about telling everyone that Vantha is gone,” Tho’s sister, Gloria, said Friday. “Having to reach out to all the corners of the world, I hate it. I do.”
Coroner’s officials on Saturday identified Vantha’s killer as Angel Marquez, 32, of Los Angeles. Family and friends said Marquez was an ex-boyfriend of several years who had been harassing Vantha and breaking into her home.
Homicide detectives said their bodies were found Thursday inside the apartment in the 100 block of Herondo Street shortly after a report of gunshots. A gun was located near the man’s body.
“It came out of nowhere, especially because my brother, he passed away when I was 9,” said Tho’s brother, Alex. “So what are the odds, you know? I can’t wrap my head around it. I still feel like I’m going to see her again.”
MISS CAMBODIA AMERICA
A hairstylist at Evolution Salon in Hermosa Beach, Vantha was the oldest of four siblings in a family of Cambodian refugees who fled the Khmer Rouge regime, which killed 1.7 million people in the 1970s. Vantha was born in a refugee camp in Thailand. The children and their parents eventually made their way to Long Beach and the South Bay.
Vantha, who attended Long Beach schools, had aspirations to become an actress and model, and was named Miss Cambodia America in 1998. She chose not to continue with a beauty pageant career and followed in her mother’s footsteps to become a hairdresser.
Co-workers at the Hermosa Avenue salon remembered Vantha as generous and funny. Her boss, Rodilyn Wooldridge, asked Vantha to join the group at Evolution when she opened the business three years ago.
At the salon Friday, workers spent the day responding to condolences from Vantha’s clients and fielding phone calls from those who didn’t know that she had died.
Wooldridge recalled that, just last weekend, Vantha was on a fishing trip. She had something planned for the following weekend as well.
She was always on the go, friends and cousins said.