UPDATED 01/19/16 – 10:15 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Police in northwest Indiana say a suspect has been arrested in a double homicide after a mother and daughter were found strangled this weekend.
The Lake County Coroner’s office said 63-year-old Lana Taneff was found dead at her home in the 2300 block of West 44th Avenue; and her mother, 86-year-old Velia Taneff was found on a neighboring property in the 2300 block of West 44th Avenue. An autopsy confirmed that both Lana and Velia Taneff died of strangulation and blunt force trauma.
Friends said one of the victims owned both homes, renting the Taft Street home out to tenants.
The Taneffs recently had become concerned about their safety, and had had added a security system, and built a fence around their property. After their deaths, police suspect their handyman might have had something to do with their murders.
At a press conference Monday afternoon, Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said a man was taken into custody in connection with the arrest after the victims’ vehicle was located in Montpelier, Ohio, where the suspect was arrested on an unrelated matter.
The man, 44-year-old James Andrew Lohnes, has not been charged in the Taneff’s murders, but was being held on an unrelated misdemeanor charge, and is suspected of stealing the Taneffs’ car and driving it to Ohio. Police tracked the car using its Onstar system.
Bunchich said that the suspect is a Lake County (Ind.) resident and worked as a handyman for both women. He said the man had previous run-ins with the law, including sexual assault.
Family friend Natalie Ammons couldn’t find the words to describe Velia Taneff, a woman who was known as Gary’s AM radio for speaking her mind on her radio talk show, “The Real Deal with Val Taneff.”
“I think it’s tragic, and, um, I just …” Ammons said.