Victim named in mysterious Bellingham murder

BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- A 59-year-old woman's murder is laced with mysteries, and homicide detectives are trying to piece together the final moments of her life.

Investigators admit that many of the circumstances surrounding the murder of Abigail Gulatto are hard to explain - starting with the deadbolt at her home where Bellingham police found her body.

"When we got there we had to - with the help of the fire department - force the door to get into the house," said Lt. Bob Vander Yacht. "The dead bolts were locked so that does create a lot of questions for us."

Witnesses said it was a violent scene inside the basement unit where Gulatto died. There was no sign of a break-in, but police say that doesn't necessarily mean she invited the killer inside.

"We're not going to rule out that there was an acquaintance involved in this," Vander Yacht said. "It could certainly be a stranger, but an acquaintance could be involved."

Detectives said the victim was last seen alive on Saturday in the trendy Fairhaven neighborhood, where she worked as a hairdresser. She was out with friends having a drink that night, but around midnight, investigators say her whereabout become a little more cloudy.

Detectives need help re-tracing those final moments. Gulatto was within easy walking distance of home. Investigators don't believe anything was stolen from that residence, and aren't commenting on whether the crime had a sexual motivation.

"That will be a part of the medical examiner's final report," Vander Yacht said.

The case has so many questions, and while police are running down leads, they are also asking for any tips from the public.

"If anybody could give us more information about her path over the course of the evening, that would be helpful," the police lieutenant said.