Lee Bell.JPG6:11 PM (BCN): San Francisco police today arrested a 47-year-old man for the murder of a woman found dead inside a suitcase floating in the San Francisco Bay on May 18.

Pearla Louis, a 52-year-old San Francisco woman, was believed to have been murdered within the previous two days, homicide Inspector Michael Dudoroff said today.

Louis’ family reported her missing on May 17. The suitcase was found floating in the water near the Embarcadero and Folsom Street shortly before 9 a.m. the following day.

Dudoroff identified the suspect as 47-year-old Lee Bell, of San Francisco. He said Bell was known to Louis’ family and that he and Louis had “a relationship,” but did not elaborate, other than to say Bell had been accused of abusing her in the past.

Police have not released the cause of Louis’ death or a possible motive for her murder.
Bell was already in custody in San Francisco County Jail at the time of his arrest, having been booked on a probation violation on May 21, Dudoroff said.

One count of murder has now been added to the charges against him.

5:36 PM: SFPD say that have made an arrest in the murder of Pearla Louis, the woman found dead in a suitcase in the Bay last month.

The suspect, 47 year old Lee Bell, had been taken into custody by the SF Sheriff’s Department for probation violations (He was on probation for grand theft) on May 21. Investigators say he had a previous relationship with Louis, and he was booked on a murder charge today.

In a press conference today, SFPD said that Louis and Bell had a relationship, and that Louis had called police on two occasions to report being the victim of domestic violence. They did not say if Bell was named in those incidents.

Photo: SFPD

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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