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Woman, 92, murdered for loose change, officials say

June 4, 2012 1:27:18 PM PDT
The suspect is held in the Union County jail held on more than a million dollars bail and charged with a heinous murder that even hardened investigators cannot believe.

"A defenseless woman, who was in her home minding her own business, was strangled by Daniel Rios," Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow said.

That 38-year old suspect is accused of pushing his way into a home, where he came face to face with 92-year old Annette Hemple.

"She attempted to scream. He put his hand on her face and pushed her a distance into the living room, onto the floor and he strangled her," Romankow said.

Investigators said he went through the apartment collecting cups of coins. In all, he found just 360 dollars in loose change, which he cashed in at a local supermarket.

"He acknowledged he did this. That he killed this lady," romankow said.

A week before the murder, Rios was spotted by residents in a nearby block, allegedly breaking into another house. He was followed and reported to police, who later issue a warrant for his arrest.

He was found in Newark, police say, and revealed his disturbing pattern.

"Most of the time he would walk from home to home, ring the door bell. If the occupants didn't answer he would break into the home," Elizabeth Det. Tom Kuczer said.

It is not immediately clear if he has a lawyer. He was arrested last week and is being held on $1.5 million bail.

Officials said Hemple was last seen alive on May 24, and discovered dead a few hours later, by a family member who lived on the second-floor of Hemple's two-family home.

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