ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Residents of a western New York apartment complex have been left shaken by the slaying of a woman who celebrated her 101st birthday this month. Her upstairs neighbor, a 54-year-old man, stabbed Marcia Morrison multiple times in her apartment this week, authorities said.
Gregory Jesmer pleaded not guilty Wednesday in a Rochester court to second-degree murder. He was ordered held in the Monroe County jail without bail. A message left Thursday with the public defender handling his case wasn't returned.
Police and firefighters found Morrison dead Tuesday morning in her first-floor residence at the Rochester Highland Apartments after a senior transportation company driver couldn't find her when he went to pick her up for her weekly ride, officials said.
The Democrat and Chronicle reports court documents indicate Morrison was repeatedly stabbed in the neck, throat and upper torso.
"This is one of the most egregious crimes that we as a community have ever seen," said Monica O'Brien, head of the county district attorney's elder abuse bureau.
Rochester police said Jesmer was arrested earlier Wednesday after he followed a 13-year-old girl who lives in the same apartment complex and offered her money to come back to his apartment. Jesmer chased the girl, but a passing motorist stopped and intervened and called 911, police said.
Jesmer has a criminal record that includes arrests for grand larceny and driving while intoxicated, but doesn't have a history of violent crime, O'Brien said.
Morrison, who turned 101 two weeks ago, had no children. Her husband, Raymond Morrison, died decades ago.
According to Spectrum News , she was born Marcia Bodine and grew up in Nunda, a town 45 miles (70 kilometers) southwest of Rochester. The couple spent most of their lives in Rochester, where she worked as a switchboard operator for a company.
Sandra Fields and her children lived across from Morrison for four years. She described her neighbor as feisty and funny, and remembered the older woman for her lively spirit, kindness and generosity.
"She had a lot of get-up-and-go in her," Fields told the Democrat and Chronicle. "She was like our grandmother."
Morrison's closest relatives are great-nieces and nephews who live outside Rochester, Spectrum News reported.