ELIZABETH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Police are searching for a suspect after a mother of three was found dead and her roommate injured in an apartment in Elizabeth Wednesday night.
Just before 11 p.m., police were called to a building on Madison Avenue just across the street from Winfield Scott Elementary School.
Chilling cries woke up many residents who live in the building.
“I hear somebody screaming, going crazy upstairs,” one neighbor told CBS 2′s Weijia Jiang. “The neighbors are screaming, ‘Call 911, somebody is hurt.’”
When officers arrived, they found 48-year-old Patricia Parham-Hayward strangled inside an apartment on the top floor, police said. Parham-Hayward, the mother of three grown sons, was pronounced dead at the scene.
A second woman, 59, was also choked but survived and ran to the next door neighbor for help.
“She was hollering, screaming, pounding on my door,” neighbor Susan Johnson said.
The surviving victim was taken to hospital.
Neighbors are stunned at what happened.
“Why would something go down like that? Your home is supposed to be a place of serenity,” neighbor Valorie Allen said. “When it happens literally outside your door or window just a few feet away it puts you in a place.”
Police said Parham-Hayward knew her killer, but they are not revealing how, Jiang reported.
Police said when the suspect showed up at the apartment, the two went into a room together, but only he came out and that’s when he attacked the surviving victim, Jiang reported.
The suspect is described by police as a tall, thin Hispanic man in his early to mid 30s with light-colored hair. He is between 6-feet-2-inches and 6-feet-4-inches tall and was last seen wearing a black shirt, blue jacket and jeans.
Police are searching the neighborhood and looking for possible surveillance video of the suspect.
Meanwhile, Parham-Hayward’s family and friends have been gathering at the scene to console each other.
“Of course I have anger, but I feel more pain than anger,” cousin Charles Hawkins said.
Anyone with information should call police at (908) 558-2017.
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