An 80-year-old Royal Oak woman was found dead in her home in the 2900 block of Trafford on Sunday evening – her throat cut and her hands bound behind her back, according to . There was evidence of a robbery, police said.
"The victim, Nancy Maureen Dailey, 80 years old, was discovered by a relative who came to the residence to check on the victim," Royal Oak Police Lt. Thomas Goad said in a news release this morning.
Police responded to the scene off Woodward Avenue near 13 Mile Road at 8:26 p.m. Sunday. Goad said the crime likely occurred sometime between 5:30 and 7 p.m. Sunday. A white SUV or minivan was seen in the area and might be involved, Goad said in the release.
Police did not release any more details. Dr. Ljubisa J. Dragovic, the Oakland County medical examiner, ruled the death a homicide with the cause of death "sharp force trauma" to the neck after conducting an autopsy today. He would not release any more details, citing the ongoing investigation.
Neighbors are understandably upset at the news of the brutal crime in their area.
Tim Stedman said has known Dailey for 40 years. "She was a nice little old lady. She took walks every day to get exercise," said Stedman, who lives four houses away.
He said Dailey moved into the house about 20 years ago. "This is a wonderful neighborhood and we have a great neighborhood association," he said.
Stedman, a past president of the Woodwardside Improvement Association, urged neighbors to be cautious. "This teaches us to be more vigilant and to be aware of who's around us," he said.
City Commissioner Patricia Capello is a longtime Woodwardside resident and knew Dailey.
"Nancy was a wonderful, wonderful person and an avid walker," said Capello, who lives two streets away from Dailey's house.
Dailey walked several miles a day until recently, said Capello who also dropped off Meals on Wheels to Dailey. Dailey did not have any children and had few close relatives, Capello said.
Lois Hillebrand, 77, has lived next door to the victim for 24 years, she told the Detroit Free Press. Hillebrand said her neighbor was an avid genealogy historian, traveling nationally to genealogy conventions and studying her family tree. She said the single woman, who didn’t have children, worked as a law office manager until she retired.
Dailey's niece waited in Hillebrand’s living room Sunday night, trying to find out what happened to her aunt, she said.
“My daughter saw her a little after 1 o’clock yesterday, but someone else saw her put the trash out later,” Hillebrand told the Free Press today, wondering who killed her neighbor. “I’m just assuming whoever it is is long gone.”
Mary Ann Van Hietsman, a member of the Woodwardside Improvement Association, lives a street away from the crime scene.
“I see the woman all the time,” she told WWJ. "She comes to our neighborhood stuff … and I don’t know. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”
Bill Shaw, who ran for city commissioner in the Nov. 8 election, and his wife, Dorothy, live in the Woodwardside neighborhood. She said they often walk to the nearby Olga's on Woodward and knocked on a lot of doors in the neighborhood during the campaign.
"This terrorizes me," Dorothy Shaw told Royal Oak Patch this morning. "It's just awful. I can't fathom who would do this."
Former Royal Oak Mayor Dennis Cowan lives a few houses down from the woman. “It’s just shocking,” he told the Free Press. “People are very close here and take care of each other. They're obviously very upset and want to know who did it.”
Early Monday morning, a neighbor came out of her home on the quiet, residential street, just a few doors from Woodward, and appeared shaken. She would not talk about what happened.
A police officer on the scene would not comment; police tape remained in place this morning, but otherwise the two-bedroom brick ranch home was quiet.
Reaction to the story was one of disbelief and nervousness. Royal Oak Patch Facebook followers had this to say early this morning:
- Sue Baldock: "DISLIKE - I grew up about a mile from there. This is something you just don't hear about in that area. Sad."
- Sandy Teggart Brachel: "Royal Oak is changing.....it's not the same R.O. I grew up in - not even remotely."
City Commissioner Capello said she understands that residents are shaken up by the news of the woman's murder and hunger for more information. "They (police) know what they are doing," she said this morning. "Solving it (the crime) is their first priority. We all know the first 24 hours after a crime is so important."
A Royal Oak detective was going door to door this morning questioning neighbors and officers were seen combing the yard around the victim's house.
Police ask anyone with information to call the Royal Oak Police Department at (248) 246-3500.
Correction: The victim's name first name is Nancy.