Former TV producer Jill Blackstone arrested in Baltimore, charged in murder of her sister
Former TV producer Jill Blackstone was arrested at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore on a warrant related to the death of her deaf and partially blind sister, according to authorities.
Jill Blackstone was the subject of an open warrant on allegations of murder and animal cruelty from the March 2015 incident in California, Baltimore police said Thursday.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, Jill Blackstone allegedly drugged her sister Wendy Blackstone and placed her in their garage along with three pet dogs. In a release, LAPD officials allege that Jill Blackstone then set the garage on fire, killing Wendy and two of the dogs, and staged it as an accident.
LAPD detectives said they believe Jill Blackstone was frustrated with providing long-term care for her sister as well as financial hardships.
Los Angeles County prosecutors filed a murder charge against the producer last month, following a two-year investigation by LAPD Valley homicide detectives into the death of 49-year-old Wendy Blackstone. Jill Blackstone was also charged with three counts of animal cruelty.
In March 2015, Wendy Blackstone was found unconscious next to a dead dog in an enclosed garage that had filled with carbon monoxide. Paramedics tried to resuscitate her, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.
On Tuesday, after Valley homicide detectives tracked Jill Blackstone to a relative's home in Hoboken, N.J., they learned that she had gone to Johns Hopkins University's medical center.
Jill Blackstone's attorney told detectives that she checked herself into a hospital in Baltimore due to a medical condition. She was arrested and transported to the Central Booking and Intake Facility, and is waiting for extradition back to California, according to Baltimore police.
The Los Angeles County coroner's office determined that the victim died of inhalation of combustion and the sedative alprazolam. Her death is listed as "undetermined" on the coroner's website. From the outset, investigators considered Wendy Blackstone's death to be "very suspicious" and "possibly staged," according to the autopsy report by the Los Angeles County coroner's office.
She was found in the garage of a Studio City home with a suicide note in her hand. Investigators said the note was written by Jill Blackstone, according to the coroner's report. Wendy Blackstone was legally blind and required hearing aids, the report said.
Near her feet were a Weber charcoal grill and a trash can with ash in it — both believed to be the source of the carbon monoxide, the report said. Nearby was a mostly empty bottle of vodka, although no alcohol was detected in the dead woman's body.
Investigators saw several notes near the body of Wendy Blackstone with end-of-life instructions, including orders not to resuscitate, but none were signed by the dead woman.
When paramedics arrived and opened the doors to the garage, they found one dead dog and two others walked lethargically out, the report said. One of the two, a Doberman, later died.
Jill Blackstone later told investigators that a friend called her home and she "just 'came to' and did not remember what happened," according to the coroner's report. She later told police that the grill was used in the garage to keep warm, and that the charcoal was used to roast marshmallows, the report said.
Jill Blackstone was initially arrested after her sister died. She was released without any charges being filed against her, but only days later, the district attorney's office ordered further investigation.
Homicide detectives and arson investigators then began an extensive series of interviews related to the death, Lopez said.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Jill Blackstone rose to fame producing numerous television shows, including "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" and Sally Jessy Raphael's "Sally," according to her personal website. She also produced a 1993 episode of "The Jerry Springer Show," according to the Internet Movie Database.
The Los Angeles Times contributed to this article.