Prosecutors say an elderly woman whose body was found inside her burning northern New Jersey home put up a "significant struggle" before she was killed.
But investigators are still trying to determine whether the assailant who killed 70-year-old Barbara Vernieri used a weapon in the attack. They say the widowed real estate agent died from blunt force trauma to her head and extremities.
Vernieri's body was found shortly after police and firefighters arrived at her East Rutherford home around 12:30 p.m. Friday. Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said Monday that evidence shows she was killed shortly before her body was found.
Molinelli said the assailant used either gasoline or kerosene to start the fire on the bottom floor of the two-story home in a bid to cover up the crime.