Thomas Geyer

GENESEO, Ill. — Beth Ann Parlow was a sweet, soft-spoken, timid woman.

"She had an air of shyness about her," said Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Sherri Martin of Geneseo. "She would never hurt a fly."

But that shyness, she said, is what predatory criminals look for in their victims. "Someone who will not fight back," she added.

Tragically, sometime on May 24, the 26-year-old Parlow became the victim of a horrible predatory homicide. It is one of the worst Los Angeles detectives have seen, Martin said.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department Web site, Parlow's body was discovered in her airport hotel room about 10:30 a.m. by a hotel security officer conducting a routine check. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Detectives with the Pacific Area Homicide Division of the Los Angeles Police Department were not available for comment Saturday when contacted by the QUAD-CITY TIMES.

A press release issued by authorities May 26 said that no suspects have been identified and no motive for the slaying had been established. No details on the exact cause of death were available Saturday.

"It was a brutal death," Martin said, adding that detectives have told her they have DNA and one fingerprint to go on. "The perpetrator appears to be a random predatory offender," she added. "Police out there are very concerned because they haven't had any other murders that fits this M.O."

Assessing clues

M.O., or modus operandi, is a distinct pattern of procedure that is characteristic of a criminal that is habitually followed.

One of the problems is that airport hotels are noted for robberies because they are places of transit through which people go in and out of very quickly, Martin said.

Parlow moved to San Francisco about two years ago to work as a nanny and continue her education, Martin said.

"She was taking care of a very nice family's special-needs daughter, and studying to become a grade-school teacher," she added.

Martin said that her daughter and Parlow were close friends from childhood. In fact, Parlow was one of the family.

She had been raised by her grandparents, LeRoy and Virginia Rantan of Geneseo, and graduated from J.D. Darnall High School, Geneseo, in 1995. She also attended Western Illinois University.

After her grandparents died, in 1997 and 1999, Parlow decided the move to San Francisco, Martin said.

"My daughter was at school in Colorado at the time, and they e-mailed each other all the time," she said, adding that whenever Parlow was in town, "she stayed with us."

She said Parlow had gone to Los Angeles in late May to visit friends. She stayed at a hotel near the airport because she was going to hop a plane to Colorado to visit Martin's daughter.

She never made the trip.

But the police are being thorough, she said. And while they continue their investigation, she and her daughter are preparing to say goodbye.

Arrangements for Parlow are pending at Vandemore Funeral Home Ltd., Geneseo.

Thomas Geyer can be contacted at (563) 383-2328 or