LONG BRANCH, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The deaths of a woman and a young girl who were found inside their central New Jersey apartment have been ruled a homicide.
Monmouth County prosecutors say the determination was made Sunday, two days after Long Branch police found the bodies of 62-year-old Joan Colbert and her 10-year-old foster daughter, Veronica Roach.
Neighbors have said Colbert had raised the girl since she was an infant.
“She took care of that baby like it was her’s always. You can’t buy that kind of love,” Reverend Caroline Bennett said.
On Sunday night, a large group of family members and friends said prayers and lit candles outside Colbert’s home on Lippincott Ave.
“We’re hurting. Everybody’s hurting. My family is hurting,” Joan Colbert’s brother, Melvin Colbert, said. “Everybody who loves my family is hurting very bad.”
“It’s a huge shock and it turned our city upside down,” family friend Gloria Smith said.
As CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, Roach’s biological father arrived at the scene to leave a stuffed animal at the memorial for his only child and her caregiver.
Roach’s uncle, Robert Smith, told CBS 2 he wants justice.
“We just want answers,” Smith said.
Authorities said the woman’s adult niece found the bodies around 5 p.m. Friday on the home’s first floor, where the two lived.
Officers had gone to the residence after receiving a 911 call about suspicious circumstances at the site.
Prosecutors have not released further details on the deaths, citing the ongoing investigation.
“They didn’t catch anybody yet and we didn’t hear anything. And everybody’s scared,” Long Branch resident Doroth Celestin said.
Police said they need the public’s help with the case.
Monmouth County Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction, CBS 2 reported.
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