Police say a man killed a 92-year-old New Jersey woman to steal loose change from her home.
Daniel Rios, 38, of Elizabeth, was charged over the weekend with felony murder and burglary in connection with the May 24 homicide of Annette Hemple, Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow said.
Romankow said Hemple tried to scream but that Rios put his hand on her face, pushed her into the living room and strangled her.
Prosecutors say Rios then stole loose change she kept in cups in her kitchen. He took it to a local supermarket, where he netted about $360, Romankow said.
Neighbors were saddened by the death.
"It's terrible," said Dominic Sacca. "To take advantage of a woman who had a kind heart. She probably thought he maybe needed to use the phone or something."
Hemple was last seen alive on May 24 by a family member who lived on the second floor of Hemple's two-family home. When the family member returned several hours later, Hemple was unresponsive on the living room floor.
She was pronounced dead a short time later.
Rios was formally charged over the weekend after his arrest earlier last week in Newark. He had been identified as a suspect in Hemple's death after an investigation by Elizabeth police into prior burglaries in the area.
"No one deserves to die this way, and an innocent woman who led a good life deserved better than this,” the prosecutor said. "This woman was killed for loose change."
Rios is being held on $1.5 million bail in the Union County jail. Information on an attorney wasn't immediately available. No one answered the door at his home Monday.
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