MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Police are investigating the homicide of an 85-year-old woman who was found dead in her Mount Vernon home earlier this week.

Investigators believe Emma Gruber had been dead more than a day before police found her body Wednesday at the bottom of the basement stairs of her home on South Sixth Avenue, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.

“She may have walked in on a burglary or she may have been at home and heard a noise in her basement and responded to that sound,” said Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Terrance Raynor.

As CBS 2’s Maggie Ruper reported, Gruber was last seen Monday at her home after being dropped off from the Doles Community Center, where she attended a senior program every day.

On Tuesday morning, the driver returned to pick Gruber up and said a mysterious man in her front yard said she wasn’t home, Ruper reported.

“That’s certainly a person of interest at this point in the investigation because he was not a family member,” Raynor said.

Police said Gruber’s keys and purse are missing.

Friends worried about Gruber living alone. “Almost every day somebody was saying to her ‘please open your door and welcome someone else in so that you’re not there by yourself,'” Joan Horton said.

Neighbors said children in the area knew Gruber as “grandma” and until recently she worked in a local day care center, Jones reported.

“Twenty-eighty years I’ve lived here and I never came across nothing like this,” one neighbor said.

Police say they have received numerous tips in the case and hope to make an arrest very soon.

Anyone with information regarding the case is urged to call the police commissioner’s office at 914-665-2520.

The medical examiner will determine the cause of Gruber’s death.

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