Homeless woman found dead in her car, once led a charmed life

An old photo of Julie Crane when she was young, supplied by her friend Ynes.
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Julie Crane, whose lifeless body was found in the backseat of her car in a parking lot on Carl Boyer Drive last month, was a beautiful, easy-going woman who had a career with Princess Cruises, an estranged husband, two adult children but no home.

Crane had worked as a “reservation help/customer assistance specialist for Princess Cruises” since 2007, Negin Kamali, spokeswoman for the cruise line, told The Signal Monday.

A childhood friend who contacted The Signal said she and the 57-year-old had remained friends since the 5th Grade and kept in regular touch throughout the years.

“A year ago, however, she stopped answering my calls,” said the friend who wanted to be referred to only as Ynes.

“Hearing she was forced to live in her car was really sad,” Ynes said.

In those moments on the phone, when the two talked, Crane told her she never wanted to be a burden on anybody, particularly her children.

Julie Louise Crane, born Julie Pita in May 1959, was the daughter and only child of two “talented” chemists, in “upscale” Madison, New Jersey.

After graduating from the University of Delaware, she moved to Boulder, CO., where she met her future husband.  The two married and had two children, a daughter and a son.

“She was very refined,” Ynes said. “Growing up, they (parents) had her doing all kinds of princess things. She learned how to play classical guitar.

“She could have made a career out of that but she wasn’t ambitious,” she said.

While in Colorado, the Cranes enjoyed “the good life” as part of the “jet set” there, Ynes said, recalling the “good” times when the two talked on the phone.

Then, the couple fell on harsh times – they separated, they lost a house, she said.

For a while, Crane lived in Florida but then moved to Santa Clarita where pursued a career booking vacations for people.

On Feb. 14, a deputy with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station found Crane dead in her white Kia in the parking lot near Babies “R” Us.

Detective Steven Lankford with the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Homicide Bureau, who was assigned to investigate her death, said Crane was homeless, ruling out homicide and suicide as possible causes of her death.

“It’s not a criminal case,” he told The Signal, noting he suspects she died of natural causes or by accident.

“She (Crane) had been sleeping in her car for at least a month,” he said, noting she had just purchased the car.

Kelly Yagerlener, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Department, told The Signal Monday that the cause and manner of Crane’s death is “deferred” meaning the case is still being investigated.

Crane’s son and daughter, and other members of her family, are expected to hold a “private ceremony somewhere by the sea,” according to an obituary posted on Legacy.com.

“Her laughter, humor, and warm heart will be missed by all who knew her,” the website post reads.

According to the post, the Crane family encourages those who knew her to remember her in their own special way and also encourages donations to the “Dress for Success” organization which empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. Please visit https://www.dressforsuccess.org/.

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