Homicide investigators are looking into the suspicious death of a special education school aide at a Carmel Mountain Ranch apartment complex, according to San Diego police.
Officers responded to an apartment in the 11700 block of Stoney Peak Drive around 9:15 a.m. Thursday after a report that the 51-year-old woman who lived there had not shown up to work.
According to a coworker, the victim is Lori Hughes, an instructional aide for special education classes at Mt. Carmel High School.
Police discovered Hughes unconscious, and paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene.
Officials said her body showed no obvious signs of trauma. An autopsy will reveal the cause of death.
"We are extremely saddened by the news of her passing and our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends," said a statement from the Poway Unified School District, where Hughes had worked for four years.
Her coworker calls Hughes was a soft-spoken, artistic person who liked to paint family portraits. She has three children -- an 18-year-old daughter and two 20-year-old sons -- and was going through a divorce.
Neighbor Michael Morocco was awakened Thursday by knocks from police, asking him if he'd heard something.
He told NBC 7 he's spooked by the fact that investigators are calling Hughes' death suspicious.
"It just makes me feel concerned about the people around me. I'll be more on the lookout," said Morocco.
Thursday afternoon, investigators combed through bushes and inside Hughes' home, looking for clues. They are not saying if a forced entry was made.
Check back for updates on this developing story.