Ida Townes Forsythe was the personal secretary, assistant, and confidante to billionaire Whitney Vance. She worked for Vance for 35 years. She was unmarried and devoted to her job and to Vance. She lived in a classic craftsman home in Pasadena, not far from her employer's palatial estate.
In recent years Vance had lost the ability to write, so Forsythe learned to copy Vance's shaky handwriting including his signature. But Vance wanted this kept secret. On Sundays when no one was around he would dictate letters to various friends and business associates. Then Forsythe would transcribe them by hand and sign them, giving the impression that Vance had written the letters himself. Vance trusted her completely, relying on her to maintain the ruse that he was still healthy and functioning even though he was not.
On Wednesday, 5 October, 2016, Forsythe dictated a new will to her. He believed he was dying and he wanted to make this a new holographic will superseding his old will. He directed her to transcribe the will, mail it and an explanatory note, along with the pen she had used, to Harry Bosch. However, Forsythe noted that he had not provided any bequest to her. Instead of talking to Vance about this, she altered the will to include $10 million for herself. Four days later Vance suddenly felt better and wanted to rescind the holographic will in favor of a new one to be drafted by his attorney. When Vance told her this she reacted with rage and smothered him with a pillow.
The murder almost went undetected, but Pasadena detectives began to suspect foul play. They expressed their suspicions to Bosch while also seeking information from him. Bosch and Mickey Haller preempted the Pasadena detectives by confronting Forsythe with the evidence of her crime. She agreed to surrender to the Pasadena police and have Haller represent her.