NEWTON, Mass. — A woman arrested in connection with the beating death of a beloved Newton man fatally struck him during an apparent dispute over forged checks and wrapped his body in a curtain in an attempt to conceal the crime, investigators said.
Xiu Fang Ke, 43, was arraigned Wednesday afternoon on a charge of murder in the death of 65-year-old Leonard Garber, according to Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan and Newton Police Chief John F. Carmichael Jr.
Officers conducting a wellbeing check at Garber’s home at 65 Mount Vernon Terrace around 3 p.m. Tuesday found his body wrapped in a curtain and buried under heavy construction materials, Ryan and Carmichael said during a news conference.
Ryan noted that Ke strategically placed the materials on top of Garber in an effort to conceal his body from people entering the home. Garber hadn’t been heard from since late last week and investigators believe he had been dead for more than a day.
Ke, a longtime friend and former tenant of Garber’s, had been forging checks in his name in excess in $40k, according to Ryan.
Garber and Ke had been spending time together, and Garber became aware of the checks sometime between Thursday and Saturday, investigators said.
It’s alleged that Ke struck and killed Garber when he confronted her about the checks. Ryan noted that it appears Garber died as a result of “blunt force trauma.”
Ke was taken into custody without incident early Wednesday morning.
Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said that Garber was well-known in the community and an active member of a local synagogue, adding that his death has created a “disturbing and difficult” time for everyone who knew him.
Fuller noted the incident is not a random act and that the community is not in danger.
Neighbors, naturally, were shocked to hear of Garber’s murder — but did not remember an Asian woman in his company.
“You never expect this sort of thing to happen to people you know,” said Pat Hamilton, who has lived on Mount Vernon Terrace for more than 20 years. “We hoped he went on a trip somewhere and didn’t mention it to anybody — and I guess that’s not the case.”
Ke, who heard the charges against her through a Mandarin interpreter, was held without bail. A probable cause hearing is scheduled for October 31st.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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