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December 07, 2015

Fishtown woman allegedly beaten to death in home by housekeeper, handyman

Philadelphia police say attackers stole more than $20,000 in cash from victim's residence

A 54-year-old Fishtown woman was beaten to death with a wrench inside her house allegedly by the woman who cleaned the victim's home for years and the housekeeper's boyfriend, according to Philadelphia police.

The attack that killed Kathryn Wilson, of the 1300 block of Earl Street, occurred Friday, Philadelphia Homicide Capt. James Clark said at a press conference Monday afternoon. Wilson's body had been discovered Monday morning after the woman charged with her murder, 47-year-old Jane Johnson, contacted police.

Clark said Johnson called police in an effort to distance herself from the alleged crime and her boyfriend, James Cheever, 50, also charged with murder. Cheever also knew Wilson and on occasion had done repairs at the victim's home, Clark said.

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In addition to the fatal beating, Johnson and Cheever are charged with robbery for stealing at least $20,000 in cash from Wilson's home.

"It was a really sad and very senseless murder," said Clark, who added that Johnson and Cheever both admitted to the robbery and murder. 

He described Johnson as the "mastermind" of the alleged crimes because she had known Wilson for years from cleaning woman's home as many as five days per week. Johnson knew there was a large sum of cash inside the house, Clark said.

After entering Wilson's home on Friday, Clark said the suspects allegedly proceeded to beat the woman with a lug wrench until Wilson told them the location of where her money had been hidden.

Clark said Wilson suffered from various illnesses, "so she really wasn't able to fight back." He also said many of the injuries the victim suffered were to her head.

Police are waiting for a warrant to be signed to search Johnson and Cheever's residence, where Clark said they expect to find the stolen cash.