STUDIO CITY (CBSLA/CBS Baltimore) — A former daytime television producer was arrested in Baltimore Thursday in the murder of her deaf and partially-blind sister at their Studio City home three years ago.
Los Angeles police report that Jill Blackstone was taken into custody by LAPD detectives and Baltimore police officers on murder and animal cruelty charges in the death of her younger sister, 49-year-old Wendy Blackstone, and their two dogs.
According to Los Angeles police, on March 14, 2015, Jill Blackstone drugged her sister Wendy and placed her in a garage with their three dogs at their home on Landale Street. She then set the garage on fire, killing Wendy and two of the dogs.
Jill staged the murder as an accident, police believe. A suspicious suicide note determined to be fake was found in the garage as well.
Immediately following Wendy’s death, police arrested Jill on suspicion of murder, but released her just a few days later, citing that they needed more time to investigate.
Following an extensive investigation by LAPD and L.A. Fire Department arson detectives, murder charges were filed against Blackstone in March.
Detectives suspect that Jill killed Wendy over the frustration of having to take care of her sister, who was hearing and visually impaired, coupled with the financial stress it placed on their family.
“The investigative follow up required for a successful prosecution included significant travel, research, numerous interviews, and additional forensic evidence processing which added time to this extremely complex and sensitive investigation,” LAPD said in a news release Thursday.
After filing the arrest warrant, according to the Los Angeles Times, detectives learned Blackstone was living with a relative in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Police then discovered that Jill had checked herself into Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore due to an undisclosed medical condition. She was arrested Thursday and is awaiting extradition to California.
The L.A. County coroner’s office lists Wendy’s manner of death as “undetermined,” but it says she died of the “combined effects of inhalation of combustion and alprazolam” — better known as Xanax.
Blackstone’s television producer credits include “The Jerry Springer Show,” “Divorce Court,” “The Tony Danza Show,” “Family Court With Judge Penny,” “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” and “Sally Jessy Raphael.”