A woman in Bradenton, Florida is being charged with the brutal murder of her 82-year-old neighbor, Zelma Huddleston, according to WFLA. Monday evening, Huddleston’s daughter—whose name has not been released—visited her at her home in the 2300 block of Third Avenue West at around 6:45 p.m. A neighbor, identified as Misty Whiteley, 55, was also in the home during the daughter’s visit.
Police officials say that before the woman returned to her home, Whitely was still with her mother.
Later that evening when she tried to get ahold of her mother via telephone, she was unsuccessful. The woman tried again the following day, but she was still unable to get in contact with Huddleston. Then later that day she called a cab and went to her mother’s home where she found her lifeless body laying in a pool of blood with a knife several feet away.
An affidavit indicated that a bloodied keychain with the name ”Misty” engraved on it was found adjacent to the elderly woman’s body.
The woman confronted her mother’s neighbor. Whiteley, whose hands and clothing were covered in blood, stated that she and Huddleston got into a physical altercation. She did not go into details about why the pair was fighting, but she did, however, state that she was only defending herself.
Authorities say that Whiteley had a “black eye, bruising on her forehead, and cuts on her right hand,” which was “consistent with cuts from the knife.”
The daughter’s cab driver told police that while he was waiting in the vehicle for her to return, Whitely came out of her home and told him that she and Huddleston got into a physical altercation. She went on to say that her knife was still in the house and she wanted it back, police say.
Bradenton Police Department Lt. Brian Thiers announced that Huddleston’s remains were transported to the city medical examiner’s office for an autopsy, which was scheduled Wednesday morning to uncover the cause of death.
The medical examiner who responded to the scene said that the victim had noticeable cuts and blunt force trauma to the head, Miami Herald reports.
A neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, stated that Whiteley was having financial issues and was on the brink of losing her home. He went on to say that “she seemed normal, just down on her luck. I don’t know what happened, I wouldn’t expect that kind of action out of her, she seemed like a decent person….She lost her cool or something.”
Whiteley was arrested and booked into the Manatee County jail on charges of second-degree murder, obstruction, and battery on a law enforcement officer. She made her first court appearance Wednesday afternoon, and a judge set her bond at $760,500.
A motive for the killing is unknown at this time, but Bradenton Police officials are actively investigating the case.
[Featured Image by Manatee County Sheriff’s Office]