Lexington woman found in bushes dies

Assault victim discovered behind her home after co-workers report her missing

jkegley@herald-leader.com,ksaltz@herald-leader.comJune 11, 2010 

Umi Southworth in the radio studio during Amberly Warnke's "Ages 3 and Up!" radio show on Saturday, June 5, 2010 at the WRFL studio. Southworth was there with her daughter Almira Fawn who was performing on Warnke's show. Photo by Allie Garza

ALLIE GARZA — Lexington Herald-Leader

A Lexington woman who was found badly injured Wednesday night in the bushes behind her home on Meadow thorpe Avenue has died.

Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said police are investigating the case as a homicide.

The victim was identified Thursday night as Umi Southworth, 44. Neighbors described her as a quiet woman who kept to herself.

No charges have been filed and no suspects have been named in the slaying, but Roberts said police are following several leads.

Roberts said Southworth's husband, Don Southworth, was interviewed and released from police headquarters.

Roberts said officers executed a search warrant at the Southworths' home and took several items, but she would not elaborate.

Officers began searching for Umi Southworth on Wednesday after receiving a missing-person report from her co-workers at Fazoli's corporate headquarters on Palumbo Drive. Umi Southworth, an accountant, had not shown up for work Wednesday.

At 6:21 p.m., officers went to the woman's home in the 1400 block of Meadowthorpe Avenue, off Leestown Road, where they later found her in the bushes.

She was so severely injured when officers found her that they called the coroner's office. Police declined to comment on the nature of Southworth's injuries, "but it was clear to (investigators) that she had been assaulted," Roberts said.

The coroner's staff determined that she was alive. She was rushed to University of Kentucky Hospital, where she had remained in the intensive care unit overnight and much of Thursday. She died Thursday afternoon.

On Thursday around 4 p.m., police tape had been pulled down from Southworth's front door as news vans filled the street.

Several neighbors said they didn't know the Southworths very well because the family largely kept to themselves. They said Umi Southworth was originally from Indonesia and, except for a daughter, had no family in the states.

Southworth's daughter, Almira Fawn Southworth, is a 12-year-old singer and songwriter. Almira often performed in Lexington at local venues and toured multiple times. She is featured in several Internet videos and has her own Web site, www.almirafawn.com.

She was profiled last year by the Herald-Leader.

In that article, Almira said her first summer tour was a few years ago when she and her father loaded up the car, and he took her to audition at clubs in beach towns.

Don Southworth, a truck driver, said it was hard to know the right thing to do when you have a child who obviously has a great gift. He said he and his wife tried to strike a balance. They pushed, but not too hard.

Police have said Almira is safe but would not say with whom she is staying.

The violent crime left many neighbors distraught and teary-eyed Thursday. Many said they were concerned because Umi Southworth's killer had not been apprehended.

Becky Tuttle, 56, who has lived in the neighborhood for 25 years, said she couldn't remember such a violent crime occurring in that time.

"Things like this don't happen out here," she said.

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