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Wood-Ridge Man Denies Killing Woman Found In Burning Home

Daniel Rochat (credit: Bergen County Prosecutor's Office)

Daniel Rochat (credit: Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office)

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HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A Wood-Ridge man has denied killing an East Rutherford woman whose body was found inside her burning home.

Daniel Rochat, 37, entered a not guilty plea Friday to charges of murder, aggravated arson and armed burglary in the death of 70-year-old Barbara Vernieri.

An autopsy found that Vernieri died from blunt force trauma to her head, police said. Her body was discovered on the first floor of her home after it went up in flames on Sept. 14.

Vernieri worked as a realtor and lived alone since her husband died three years ago from a heart attack.

Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said Vernieri and Rochet’s father worked together in real estate and that Vernieri had known Rochat since his teens.

Rochat, who is currently unemployed, was arrested Wednesday during a traffic stop in Allendale. Prosecutors said he had been under physical surveillance by detectives.

A Superior Court judge continued Rochat’s bail at $3 million.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)