MOUNT ARLINGTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – On Monday police were warning residents in a quiet community to be extra careful after an elderly woman was found murdered in her home.
At Mt. Fern United Methodist Church in Randolph, members spoke of their long-time friend, Barbara Wilson.
“She was a wonderful person, always willing to help,” Bea Sullivan told CBS 2’s John Slattery.
“And funny, keeping everyone happy,” Betty Rice added. “And she was so good to everybody and had nothing anybody would want.”
But on Sunday the 77-year-old was found dead in her house trailer, which is right next to the Mt. Arlington Borough Hall on Lake Hopatcong. Members of her church called police after Wilson failed to show up for a fundraiser she helped organize — selling soup on Super Bowl Sunday.
Anne Gendron and Olga Mandziuk knew Wilson for years and described her as a “wonderful woman.”
“She was always kind, polite, everything. Said she do anything for anybody,” Olga Mandziuk said.
Now that there is a crime scene in their backyard, Mandziuk said she is taking precautions.
“I’m locking the doors and carrying a baseball bat in the house. If anyone comes near. I’m going to start whacking,” she told CBS 2′s Sean Hennessey.
At 1 p.m. Sunday, police went to Wilson’s home, which they found locked.
“Forced entry was made at that time and located the 77-year-old woman and found her in a lifeless condition in the bedroom on the ground,” Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi said.
Police said it appears Wilson had been beaten by an intruder. Bianchi asked residents in the Howard Boulevard area to contact police if anyone was going door-to-door offering services in the past week.
“I can tell you blunt force trauma. That was the mechanism of one of the injuries. We’re not getting into any more particulars with regard to that,” Bianchi said.
“At this point in time, we are telling neighbors to be vigilant. There are no suspects that are in custody. We’re asking people to keep their doors locked, watch their surrounding and if they see anything suspicious to immediately report it to law enforcement,” Bianchi told 1010 WINS’ Schuck.
Friends said Wilson, whose husband died a couple of years ago, had worked for Catholic Charities in Dover, and was very active in her own church in Randolph.
“It is devastating to our church. Barbara was one of the most amazing members of our church Always been here. Wonderful woman,” Rev. Edwards said.
The borough’s mayor knew Wilson well and is stunned like everybody else.
“I don’t know of a homicide in Mount Arlington ever in the history of Mount Arlington,” Mayor Arthur Ondish said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Mount Arlington Police Department at 973-398-2100, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office at 973-285-2900 or the Morris Sheriff’s Office Crime Stopper Program at 973-COPCALL.