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Neighbors Hold Memorial Service for 80-year-old Killed in her Home

Friends and loved ones gather on a rainy night for a candlelight vigil to remember homicide victim Nancy Dailey, who they say had a wonderful life in a quiet Woodwardside neighborhood.

More than 50 friends and neighbors of Nancy Dailey gathered in the rain Sunday evening to remember the 80-year-old who was two weeks earlier.

At the suggestion of Mayor Pro-Tem Michael Andrzejak, the group sang Silent Night on the candlelit lawn of the woman remembered as an avid walker, gardener, friend and beloved aunt.

 just after 8 p.m. Nov. 20 by a female cousin who went to her house in the 2900 block of Trafford to check on her. Dailey's throat had been cut and her hands bound behind her back.

Neighbor Laura Harrison, a former city commissioner and the owner of the  in downtown Royal Oak, organized the memorial to honor Dailey. Harrison has lived on Trafford for more than 40 years and knew Dailey for approximately 30 years. Harrison said her oldest son, who now lives in New York City, used to be Dailey’s paperboy when he was growing up in the Woodwardside neighborhood.

At Harrison’s request, the Rev. John Miller of the offered prayers from the steps of Dailey’s front porch, which until recently was a crime scene surrounded with yellow tape. The memorial gathering included Mayor Jim Ellison, City Commissioners David Poulton, Patricia Capello and Chuck Semchena, and state Rep. Marty Knollenberg. 

Former mayor Dennis Cowan, a member of the neighborhood association of which Dailey was an active member, also attended the gathering.

“We pray that the peace that eluded (Nancy) at the very end of this earthly life will be with her in the next life,” Cowan told gatherers. “And our hope tonight is that in each other we can overcome those fears associated with her passing and in her honor continue to build on the solid foundation of our great neighborhood and community.”

Several of Dailey’s neighbors spoke fondly of her. “This is a heart-wrenching thing, especially when it happens on your block,' said Tim Stedman, who lives just four doors down from Dailey's home. “Nancy wanted to move to this neighborhood from the east side of town and she had a wonderful life here,” he said. “We’ll definitely be missing her smiling face.”

Terry Fraga knew Dailey through the Frank Wendland American Legion on Main Street. “She was so sweet and trusting,” he said.

Fraga said that about six months ago Dailey began to show signs of dementia and that she was easily confused. Fraga, who frequently did chores for Dailey, confirmed the elderly woman hired Al Wood and Tonia Watson, a homeless couple being held and suspected of killing Dailey, to do work at her house.

On Nov. 22, police  on felony parole absconder warrants. The suspects are expected to be arraigned this week.

"Our parole system needs to make serious changes so that crimes like this, against innocent people, are not repeated," Knollenberg said. "When extreme acts of violence like this are committed, it makes me wonder why we don't have the death penalty." Knollenberg said he plans to urge the parole system to look at better strategies for parolees.

Dailey, who was never married, had one sister who passed away from cancer a few years ago. She had one niece, who attended the memorial with her husband. She thanked everyone for coming on such a rainy night, and told the crowd they were an inspiration to her to try to get along better with her own neighbors. She also thanked them for making Trafford Road such a wonderful place for her aunt to live for so many years.

Dailey’s cousin, who found her dead inside her home, also attended but did not speak to those gathered.

Harrison asked that anyone who wanted to make a memorial contribution to do so to the , where Dailey was a volunteer gardener. To make a donation click here.

“This is a good street and I want everyone to get closer,” Harrison said in closing. “I know we all have busy lives, but let’s get closer as neighbors and become friends.”

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