Elderly woman beaten to death in home invasion

January 13, 2012 4:06:15 PM PST
A family is devastated by a brutal home invasion that left an 80-year-old woman dead and her husband severely injured. Investigators now believe they know what made the couple a target.

It happened Thursday night at their home on Sanford near Ashcroft.

Bill and Marie Gage, who've been married for 37 years, were at home. Their Pomeranian, Mollie, started barking, and when Bill opened the door to let her out, a man forced his way in, beating both of them so severely that Marie Gage died from her injuries.

The Gages moved into their southwest Houston home a decade ago to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Loa Glenn is their daughter and she's struggling to understand her mother's death.

"Very giving, helped everyone -- strong, very independent woman. Great fashion sense and she loved her jewelry," Glenn said.

It was that jewelry, police believe, that made her a target. Three unique, expensive rings made of a four-carat diamond and topaz and sapphires. Investigators think they might have been followed home after a day of shopping.

"This is where the old-fashioned shoe leather comes into play. We're going to be going door to door. Everywhere the victim had been, we'll be there," said C. Abbey with the Houston Police Department.

Flair Salon of Beauty was one of those stops on Thursday. Sandee Shular says she styled Marie's hair every week and still has the Christmas letter the couple gave her last month. She can't believe what happened.

"She was always smiling, she was always happy," Shular said. "I don't really know a whole bunch. But she's gonna be missed a lot. She and Bill both are really lovely people."

We know investigators talked to Shular on Friday and likely visited two other local stores where the couple shopped. They're hoping surveillance video can help.

"We believe this was not a random act, that the suspect targeted them for her jewelry," Houston Police Department Sgt. CE Elliot said.

Now a family is turning to its faith and to its patriarch, who is doing what he can to help police sketch a suspect.

"He's doing OK. He got hit and punched and kicked and so he's pretty swollen and bruised but he's OK," Glenn said.

Police hope that those rings will lead to a suspect. While Bill gage has given them some information describing the man who broke in and killed his wife, they still need the public's help.