ENGLEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Friends and family are in shock Tuesday after learning a mother and her young daughter were found murdered in Englewood.
Persons of interest were being questioned Tuesday evening. Investigators were reportedly close to naming a suspect and making an arrest.
The bodies of Tammy Pitts Gaddy, 40, and her 3-year-old daughter, Natasia, were found in their apartment on West Palisade Avenue near Palisade Place.
“It’s horrifying. It’s shocking. I’m still numb,” said family friend Tanisha Pugh. “It’s unexplainable. It really is.”
The girl died of asphyxiation and her mother was stabbed multiple times, police said. Natasia’s body was found in the basement, and police think she may have been suffocated with a garbage bag, 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported.
The bodies might have been there since Monday.
There was a sign of forced entry, officials said, though it’s not clear who caused it. It could have been caused by concerned family members who were checking in on Gaddy after not hearing from her.
Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said he does not think a stranger was responsible.
“We believe it is someone that she knew,” Molinelli said.
No one was in custody Tuesday night, but that could change.
“We don’t have anyone right now under arrest, but we are questioning many people that we believe could, one or more, but we believe it’s probably one person,” Molinelli said.
Just before noon on Tuesday, a neighbor saw people in the home — which turned out to be her concerned family members — and flagged down a police officer.
Officials said there was no evidence of robbery or sexual assault. Police confirm there had been trouble at the apartment before, but no restraining order had ever been issued.
“We are looking at all possibilities, including father, boyfriend, acquaintances,” Molinelli said.
Neighbors said the area has seen a rash of crime and violence lately, leaving them in fear, WCBS 880′s Jim Smith reported.
“I just want Tammy to know I love her,” said a friend. “I’m going to miss her and Natasia, and hopefully we can find out what happened because its wrong, it’s definitely wrong, I love you, Tammy.”
Homicide investigators are interviewing several people, but so far have made no arrests in the murders.
The murders are a shock to the quiet community of Englewood, CBS 2′s Derricke Dennis reported.
The murders are the first of this year and a mystery to those who knew the mother and child.
“I don’t know any personal issues, I have no clue about any of that. I just know it’s a tragic ending — that’s all I know,” said a friend.
“They didn’t deserve that at all. They didn’t deserve that,” Pugh said. “They really didn’t.”
Family and friends said Gaddy worked with children as a school aide, and loved her daughter dearly.
“Every time you see one, you see the other,” Pugh said.
Natasia attended elementary school in Englewood. The superintendent of school has scheduled grief counselors and has sent letters home to parents.
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