Police have arrested a 15-year-old neighbor in the slaying of 92-year-old Thelma Steele.
Police arrested William Roger Fitts, a neighbor of Steele. Police say he confessed to the murder of Steele.
He was held without bond during a court hearing Thursday.
Steele lived directly across the street from Fitts. "Mrs. Steele was like a grandmother to me... I really loved her,” said Warren Fitts, the defendant’s brother.
The defendant's family was stunned over the loss of a neighborhood friend and the arrest of their son and brother. Fitts will be charged as an adult.
The elderly victim's family describes her as a loving woman. "What happened here is a tragedy,” said Wendy Tucker, the victim’s granddaughter.
She has known William since he was adopted by his family as a toddler. "We don't understand,” she said. “He looked out for my grandmother everyday."
Police believe the boy who once assisted the older woman broke into her home, robbed, beat and stabbed her to death. Sources said the suspect “got a little money.” Cor. Craig Howard said police found a knife that they believe to be the murder weapon in Fitts’ home.
Steele was found murdered in her District Heights home Tuesday morning, police say. She was last seen alive the past Wednesday. Neighbors say they worried as mail piled up at the small home where Steele lived alone. Last night, one called Steele's daughter, who called police.
Authorities say they found Steele inside her house in the 2900 block of East Avenue in District Heights. Officers found trauma to the body. Steele had been dead for several days.
Investigators worked the scene all night and day. A dog sniffed for a suspect's trail and officers canvassed the neighborhood to knock on doors looking for clues.
“I think its crazy. You want to live out your older years in peace, you shouldn't have to worry about someone breaking in to hurt you,” said neighbor Willa Barnes.
Robert Jackson lived two doors from Steele for more that a quarter century. He described Steele as a “nice, beautiful lady, easy going, spry.” She still did her own grocery shopping, he said.
“I’m 86 years old, you know how I feel about it,” Jackson said about Steele’s murder.