STAMFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — A 93-year-old woman’s death first appeared to be an accident. But now police have charged a man with murder.
And on Wednesday, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes learned the victim had met her alleged killer before.
She was described as a lovely lady who loved to garden. Stamford resident Isabella Mehner was found dead at the bottom of her basement stairs back in September.
At first, it appeared to be an accident, but then investigators determined she was murdered.
Her son initially spoke with CBS2’s Tony Aiello.
“It’s very upsetting. She’s 93 years old. Why would you do something like that? It’s just terrible,” Roy Mehner said back on Sept. 27.
Nearly two months later, police now say a homeless man targeted and killed her. He has been identified as 51-year-old Robert Simmons. He was arrested and charged with murder, felony murder and home invasion.
“He was in the house before. He had met Ms. Mehner in the past, so this wasn’t a random act of violence,” Stamford Police Lt. Michael Noto said.
The arrest affidavit says investigators discovered the victim’s relative, who runs a drain service company, had “… employed Simmons on and off for the last four years.” The relative told investigators he and Simmons worked on faulty drain pipes at Mehner’s Cove Road home on several occasions.
Police believe Simmons showed up again alone on Sept. 25 and followed Mehner inside.
“She did fall down the stairs, or was pushed down the stairs. However, I think after that point she was also assaulted further and some of the assault looks like it took place to her head,” Lt. Noto said.
Police said DNA evidence and surveillance footage linked Simmons to the crime. They believe part of the motive was robbery. The affidavit says Mehner’s engagement ring and wedding band were missing.
In court, lawyers said Simmons has a lengthy rap sheet for drugs and larcenies, dating to 1985.
Simmons is being held on $2 million bond. He did not enter a plea in court. His attorney declined an on-camera interview.