Woman, 79, 'brutally murdered' in Hedwig Village home put up fight, officials say

Investigators recover victim's stolen Cadillac

HOUSTON - A 79-year-old woman was found "brutally murdered" Monday in a home in Hedwig Village, officials said.

Janeil Bernard's body was discovered by her maid around 1 p.m. in the 11000 block of Capri Lane. She was found beaten and stabbed to death and there were signs of a struggle, Sgt. Marvin Collins said during a news conference Tuesday.

Authorities said whoever killed Bernard took her wallet and red four-door Cadillac.

The vehicle, with license plate FTK 6764, was found Tuesday after being abandoned on Houston's south side, investigators said. The Cadillac was taken for evidence. 

Bernard's keys were found about 200 yards from where the car was abandoned.

"I was just stunned," her friend Phillip Stephens said. "I couldn't believe that someone would do such a horrible thing to anyone, but especially to such a lovely woman."

"This is very shocking, because this just doesn't happen here," a neighbor said.

Police said there was no forced entry and Bernard may have known her attacker. Her home was slightly ransacked and investigators believe Bernard fought back, Collins said.

Neighbors said they can't imagine a motive in this world for why someone would want to harm Bernard.

"She was a great lady. She was very friendly in the neighborhood. Always with a smile," neighbor Harvey Fodell said.

Residents in the community said they are fearful, and hope police catch the killer soon.

"I hope they get caught quickly. This neighborhood is in shock. I'm telling you," Fodell said.

"We feel very, very safe and many people don't even lock their doors. I guess that's going to have to change," Debbie Houston said.

"I've been scared," Maria Grillo said. "And it's very scary because you never know."

Police hope neighbors might be able to provide surveillance video and witnesses will come forward.

VIDEO: Hedwig Village police give update after woman murdered in home

"I don't think we've had an active homicide in this city since the 90's," Collins said.

Anyone with information about Bernard’s routine or knew her personally is asked to call police at 713-461-4797.

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