EAST RUTHERFORD - An elderly woman who was found dead inside her burning East Rutherford home on Friday died from blunt force trauma, according to an autopsy.
Authorities say it's unclear whether an object was used to inflict the wounds on 70-year-old Barbara Vernieri. Her body was found shortly after police and firefighters arrived at her home.
Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said Sunday that an autopsy determined Vernieri suffered the fatal injuries before the fire engulfed her home. It also found that while she may have inhaled carbon monoxide during the fire, the blunt force injuries to her head were the primary cause of death. There also were no apparent stab wounds or lacerations on the body. The autopsy also revealed that Vernieri put up a struggle in fighting her attacker.
Molinelli also said the crime looks similar to others in the county where seniors were killed, but wouldn't draw a connection.
Police rule East Rutherford woman's death a murder