The 84-year-old man was allegedly shot by his longtime girlfriend

By K.C. Baker
Updated July 21, 2016 02:50 PM
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A new homeowner who had not yet moved into a Simi Valley, California, house was shocked at what she saw inside when she and her husband visited the house on Sunday: a dead body.

The homeowners had stopped by the well-kept, three-bedroom house on Anastasia Avenue to see if the former residents had moved out after they’d given them 30 days to vacate the property, Simi Valley Police Cmdr. Roy Jones tells PEOPLE.

The door was unlocked when the owners arrived, says Jones. When the wife went inside a bedroom, she found a man, Salvatore Orefice, 84, deceased in bed and partially covered “in a manner inconsistent with someone who sustained a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Jones says. (Police are withholding the homeowners’ names for privacy.)

The husband called police, and while investigators worked the scene, the previous owner, Mary Karacas, 75, returned home.

When being interviewed by police, Karacas allegedly admitted that Orefice was her longtime boyfriend and that she had shot him, Jones says.

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Karacas was arrested and charged with one count of felony murder with a special allegation that she personally and intentionally discharged a firearm. She was taken to the Ventura County Jail, where she remains until her next court date. Her arraignment was scheduled for Tuesday, but has been continued to August 3, authorities said. She has not yet entered a plea and court records show no attorney listed for her.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of 50 years to life in prison, Ventura County Deputy District Attorney Tate McCallister tells PEOPLE.

Police don’t know exactly what led Karacas to allegedly shoot her longtime boyfriend, but Jones says, “The best I know it at this point is that it was described as some discussion between the two of them that escalated into an altercation.”

Authorities do not know how long Orefice had been dead before the homeowner found his body, says Jones. An autopsy was conducted on Wednesday.

The police department has no significant history with either party, says Jones. “This is not a residence that we go to that is known for domestic violence or anything like that. Our primary contact with them has been related to traffic violations. So it seemed out of character.”