A post mortem will determine whether pensioner Anika "Rita" Williams was murdered before her home was torched by intruders yesterday morning.
The 65-year-old woman was found dead – hands tied behind her back and mouth gagged – on the livingroom floor of the house she rented at the corner of Tony and Skinner Streets, Mon Repos, San Fernando. A piece of cloth was tied around her neck, police said.
She lived alone after her brother died of a heart attack five years ago. She was unmarried and had no children, neighbours said.
Neighbours saw smoke coming from Williams' apartment around 2.45 a.m. One of them used a hammer to break through the kitchen door, but the apartment was engulfed in flames.
"My father was waking when he saw the flames. The neighbour broke the door and they used a hose from by us to out the fire. But it was too much. The fire officers came quickly, but the apartment was in flames. We didn't know if Rita was inside. We called, but she did not answer," a neighbour said.
Indra Ramoutar, a neighbour, said Williams visited her the night before she died.
"She went to buy bread and was walking home. She came in by me and we sat down and talked for a long time. She even fell asleep here. She left my house around 10.50 p.m.," she said.
Ramoutar said her neighbour was a friendly woman, who would often visit her home. "Last night she was talking about her pension. She turned 65 in August and she went and signed up for her pension, so she was looking forward to receiving that money. She said everything would go good when she starts getting that," she said.
Neighbours said a battery was stolen from a van parked outside William' apartment last week. "And a few years ago, two bodies were found in barrels not far from here, so we are not surprised by the murder. This is just the times we living in," a resident said.
Williams' body was removed to the Forensic Science Centre in St James where an autopsy would be performed this morning.
Homicide detectives were unable to say whether items were stolen from Williams' apartment.
The caution tape was removed by mid-morning and workers were replacing the broken door at the apartment.