Family member, close friend of slain Seattle woman share their grief while murder goes unsolved

SEATTLE -- It’s been more than two weeks since a beloved woman in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood was found murdered in her home.

For the first time, a family member on Thursday publicly shared her grief over losing Lalita 'Lita' Byrnes, 38.

“Even when she has nothing, she would give you something,” sister-in-law Iris Nicholas said.

Nicholas says Lita was born that way. Even as a young child, Lita would be the first to introduce herself to strangers and as an adult she was the first to help a stranger.

“She was absolutely the advocate for the underdog,” Nicholas said.

So to think that anyone would want to hurt Lita is a shock to many.

“That is indicative (that) they are soulless,” Nicholas said.

On March 12, a friend found the doors open to Lita’s Wallingford home leading to a shocking discovery. Lita had been stabbed to death. The county medical examiner said she had been killed the day before.

“If they had any sort of remorse, anything like that, I would like to think they would turn themselves in,” Nicholas said.

Police said the murder didn't appear to be a random act, but detectives haven't released suspect information or a motive

The grief is even stronger knowing the murderer is still out there.

“I want to remember her for the way that she lived, not the way that she died,” Nicholas said.

That’s why the corner of Nicholas’ house has taken a life of its own.

“I never thought a plant would mean so much to me,” Nicholas said.

Lita loved plants and some that once belonged to Lita are now something that Nicholas can hold on to.

For close friend Amanda Bailey, she is holding on tight to a necklace she once gave to Lita.

“To have someone find this and put it physically in my hand made me lose it,” Bailey said.

Bailey used to be Lita’s roommate in the same Wallingford home where she was found slain.

“Why couldn’t I have been there to save you, we are supposed to grow old together and sit in rocking chairs and drink cocktails on the porch and talk,” Bailey said.

That was one of Lita’s favorite moments, surrounded by friends and family on a porch in a rocking chair.

So in Lita’s honor, Bailey got the same tattoo of a rocking chair Lita had on her arm.

“Making sure I always have a remembrance of her,” Bailey said.

A memorial for Lita is still vibrant at the corner of 43rd and Interlake, even after more than two weeks. It’s a display of what Lita meant to so many in the Wallingford community.

As for the latest in the investigation, detectives continue to work on the case. If anyone has information regarding the crime, call Seattle Police at (206) 233-5000.