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Newton woman arraigned on murder and theft charges in connection with former landlord’s death

NEWTON, MASS. (WHDH) – A woman suspected of killing her former landlord in Newton was arraigned on Wednesday, as neighbors continue to process what appears to be the city’s first murder in 13 years.

Xiu Fang Ke, 43, was arraigned at Newton District Court and stands accused of murdering 65-year-old Leonard Garber inside his home.

Prosecutors alleged she was Garber’s former tenant and may have killed him late last week in a two-family home he owned in West Newton, where his body was discovered Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m really sorry this could happen to Lenny,” said neighbor Pat Hamilton.

“I know my wife had a hard time with it, she woke up crying,” said another neighbor, Ron Cohen.

Garber was reportedly last seen on his home security camera, entering the house on Mount Vernon Terrace last Thursday night. Law enforcement believe the same camera caught the woman suspected of killing him, seen entering the home the same night, then again two days later with plastic gloves and a brown paper bag.

Garber’s brother reported him missing to Newton Police on Monday, but it was after three attempted visits that officers found a blood stain on the property that led detectives to his body, which was wrapped up and hidden under several heavy objects, according to a police report.

When they entered the home, police said they found Garber’s body wrapped in a curtain under construction materials and several other items.

Based on a preliminary assessment, officers estimated the body may have been there for over a day and was purposely concealed. They also believe he suffered blunt force trauma, and could have died the week before.

Police later determined that Garber had allegedly been spending time with a female former tenant, later identified as Ke. Subsequent investigation revealed that she had allegedly been forging checks from Garber’s account and stolen thousands of dollars.

“Ms. Ke had allegedly been forging checks from a joint account of Mr. Garber and had allegedly stolen in excess of $40,000,” Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan said during a news conference Wednesday.

Officials said when Garber found this out sometime between Thursday and Saturday last week, he confronted her before she allegedly hit and killed him and attempted to hide the body.

Ke, who speaks Mandarin, listened to the charges through an interpreter while in court Wednesday. She had previously been arrested without incident at the Newton Police Station. She also allegedly confessed to police about the murder after her arrest.

“During the interview, the defendant admitted that she had stolen checks from Leonard Garber, and that she had killed him,” prosecutor Julie Kunkel said in court. “She later stated that she had used a hammer.”

“I’m still like ‘is this really happening?,’ like, ‘is that her? Could it be a (misunderstanding)?” said Ke’s neighbor, Sahara Albayrak. “Like, I kind of don’t want to believe it, to be honest.”

Albayrak told 7NEWS she never imagined the woman she described as friendly and trustworthy could be capable of such a grisly crime. She said they also chatted several times during the time frame in which police believe Garber was killed.

“Her behavior was completely normal, completely normal,” she said.

A police report obtained by 7NEWS also showed that Ke was accused of forging someone else’s checks earlier in 2022, allegedly stealing $18,000 in order to pay off gambling debts.

(Copyright (c) 2022 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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