OLD BRIDGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – The family of New Jersey woman found dead inside her Old Bridge home says the victim knew her accused killer.

Police discovered the body of 73-year-old Jo-Ann Cullinan last week at the Glenwood Apartments.

Caroline Beckhert, 40, was charged with murder and sexual assault.

MORE: Woman Charged With Sexual Assault, Murder Of 73-Year-Old In New Jersey

Cullinan’s family tells CBS2 her adult son was friends with Beckhert, who was welcomed into their home for dinner a few times a week.

The family called her death a “total shock.”

“We think it’s important to recognize and remember that victims of violent crimes aren’t just tragic stories you see on the news. They’re someones sister, mother, aunt, best friend; they are always precious to someone. They’re people who have specific characteristics that make them unique and special to the people around them. Like how Aunt Jo-Ann taught us how to macrame, how she knew the trick to making sure your cheesecake didn’t crack when baking it, or how she smelled faintly of patchouli oil. She was always warm and generous, happy to teach and help with whatever she could. She shared her artistry with the world through the delicate handmade jewelry she crafted. She’s made countless items over the years for all her family members:  everything from knitted sweaters to sock monkeys to earrings & necklaces.  She hosted a jewelry party for her niece’s birthday & took them weekly to sewing classes at the library,” the family’s statement continued.

“Aunt Jo-Ann was always quick to join in the fun with the kids, no matter their ages, always making even the simple things fun. She organized arts & crafts, card games, and could tell a great story around the campfire – complete with character voices & accents.  She was always up for an adventure or trip, had a love of music, and was happy to be anywhere, as long as she was with family.  She was our biggest cheerleader in all our life events.

Aunt Jo-Ann spent her life advocating for those with physical and mental disabilities, and she was passionate about showing kindness and compassion for those who were shunned by society.  She was a very happy person who loved her family, and was deeply loved in return. Jo-Ann may have been stolen from us in body, but the lessons of love and compassion she’s instilled in us will live on in her sisters, son, and all of her 30+ nieces and nephews. She wasn’t just a victim of something terrible, she was a person, she was our family, and we already miss her very much.”


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