Arrest made in murder of 79-year-old woman

Neighbors are reacting to a shocking development in the murder of a 79-year-old Hedwig Village woman.

HEDWIG VILLAGE, Texas - An arrest has been made in the murder of a 79-year-old woman who was found dead in her Hedwig Village home last week.

According to the Hedwig Village Police Department, a maid found Janeil Hooton Bernard dead around 1 p.m. July 2 in the home located on Capri Street near I-10 and Voss.

Related: 79-year-old woman murdered; stolen Cadillac found

Hedwig Village police say the suspect is Michael Susberry, her former housekeeper's son. They say Susberry confessed to the murder, is in custody and will be charged with capital murder.

Police say Bernard knew the suspect and let him into the house. They say Susberry pretended to slip and fall when he came out of the bathroom and head-butted Bernard when she leaned down to help. According to police, the suspect then stabbed her several times and ransacked her home, taking several small items, and took off in her car.

Bernard's car, a 2011 red Cadillac sedan, was later found abandoned early Tuesday in south Houston. 

Police say Bernard lived in Hedwig Village for 50 years. She lived alone, but had two sons and two grandchildren. They also say the former housekeeper retired 5 or 6 years ago, and Bernard continued supporting her with weekly paychecks.

Neighbors told us it was out of character for the usually quiet neighborhood.

"She was a great neighbor, she seemed independent, friendly, her son came to visit, just a great neighbor. She borrowed a few things from me once when her grandchild was coming because we had small children the same age, just a wonderful woman," said Laura Bryant, a neighbor.

Neighbors also say they saw Bernard's maid at the funeral just a few days ago.

"She was so sad and distraught over what happened, and she didn't know her son had done this horrible thing," said neighbor Harvey Fodell. "It's a real tragedy."

Neighbors and friends of Bernard's relieved Susberry is finally behind bars and off the streets.

"It's been a horror story, bad environment in our neighborhood, and now we're happy that it's come to an end," Fodell said.

The Bernard family released the following statement:

We're so thankful for the professional collaboration between the HPD and the Hedwig Village Police.  Their exhaustive work has brought an end to this savage criminal case.  While there is nothing that will bring our mother back, knowing this killer is off the streets brings us some peace of mind.  We look forward to justice being served.

Photos: Remembering Janeil Bernard

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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