TRENTON, N.J. – A resident of a southern New Jersey retirement community stabbed three people Thursday, killing an 88-year-old woman who had recently moved out because she was afraid of him and was among a group of neighbors who had accused him of disturbing the peace, authorities said.
Anthony Milano, a 65-year-old resident of the Village at Linwood, is in custody and faces murder, aggravated assault and weapons charges, Atlantic County Prosecutor Theodore Housel said.
Milano often acted erratically and feuded with his neighbors, and police had responded to calls in the area many times in the upscale 55-and-older apartment and condominium complex.
"He was always banging on the walls and threatening people. He seemed paranoid," said resident Verna Reynolds. "It's a shame this happened."
Milano, apparently armed with a folding knife that was found at the scene, accosted Catherine McGowan, 88, his downstairs neighbor, and her daughter Diane Nehmad, 60, of Egg Harbor Township around 11:15 a.m. as they walked from McGowan's apartment in the community about 10 miles south of Atlantic City. McGowan had recently moved to Nehmad's house because she was afraid of Milano, neighbors said, and the two had returned there to gather some of the older woman's possessions.
Another resident, 84-year-old Eugene Pepper, tried to intervene and was also stabbed, authorities said. Milano eventually was collared by an unidentified good Samaritan and a Linwood police officer. Milano was taken from the complex via ambulance, though he did not appear to have any visible injuries. Housel would not say where Milano was being held Thursday night.
McGowan was pronounced dead at the scene. Nehmad and Pepper were flown to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City. Both were listed in fair condition Thursday afternoon.
"It was pretty scary, especially in an area like this community," said Joanne Lamarra, who lives in the complex. She and others said numerous complaints had been made about Milano, who also was known to stomp on floors and make other loud noises in his home. She said neighbors had been documenting their problems with him.
"It's pretty scary that somebody like that, they can't do something about him before something like this happens," Lamarra said.
Milano didn't have a lawyer yet for the stabbing charges, Housel said. He had been scheduled to appear Thursday night in Linwood Municipal Court for a hearing on charges of disturbing the peace that were filed by McGowan and other residents who accused him of harassment.
Nehmad's husband was among those expected to testify against Milano, residents said. It was not immediately clear whether Pepper was involved in the case.
Gil Finkelstein, president of the community's condo association, told The Press of Atlantic City that Milano had been "behaving erratically" recently. Milano had bought his home in June 2006. Nehmad owned the unit where her mother had lived.
The murder was the first in more than 20 years in Linwood, a 4-square-mile suburban city of about 7,000 people.