By Associated Press - Sunday, July 5, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Bail was denied Sunday for a neighborhood handyman charged in the death of an elderly woman who was found beaten and with her throat slashed in the bedroom of her northwest Philadelphia home.

Leroy Wilson, 37, of Norristown, was arraigned on charges of murder, robbery, attempted burglary, receiving stolen property, identity theft and other counts stemming from the death of 85-year-old Regina Brunner, whose body was found Monday in her East Mount Airy home.

Police said Brunner’s car had been taken from the home but was found the next day six miles away, and evidence from the vehicle and computer pointed to Wilson. Surveillance video also showed him trying to use her debit card at an ATM, police said.

Homicide detectives say Wilson had worked as handyman for several people in the neighborhood, including the victim. Capt. James Clark said investigators believe he was stealing from her and perhaps was caught by Brunner, after which he beat, stabbed and ultimately killed her.

Clark said the suspect has a long history of arrests in Florida and Philadelphia, and others in East Mount Airy are now reassessing some past events.

“We’re starting to hear of certain thefts from some of the neighbors that they did not think that he had done” but now suspect otherwise, Clark said.

Brunner’s family and friends, meanwhile, gathered Sunday at a Trevose funeral home to celebrate her life, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. She was remembered as a woman who faced her own challenges, cared about injustice and inequality, and did what she felt was right.

“She often said, ‘If I die, do not feel sorry because I have lived a full life,’” son Eric Brunner told the crowd of about 500. He said a friend told him that his mother’s killer “took her death, but he did not take her life.”

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