Two people accused in the murder of an elderly man in Orange, Massachusetts, last week could be back in the state as early as Thursday.
Joshua Hart, 23, and Brittany Smith, 27, were arrested over the weekend in Virginia.
Family, friends and neighbors of 95-year-old Thomas Harty are wrestling with a mix of anger and relief that the young Athol couple has been arrested and charged in his murder and the attempted murder of his 77-year-old wife Joanna Fisher — stemming from a violent home invasion last Wednesday.
Family members tell necn the victims were stabbed. They also say Joanna Fisher waited for hours for help. She is paralyzed from the waist down, and had to wait until a nurse’s aid arrived in the morning.
“Why did they have to do what they did to them? He would have given them the money,” said Loreen Mascorft, the victim's niece. “There was no need to kill him and do what they did to Joanna. It's just plain horrible.”
John Harty, the victim's brother, says he doesn't think there's any connection between the couple and his family.
“He was always trying to help everbody,” said John Harty.
According to authorities, Hart and Smith were arrested two days before the home invasion and murder for allegedly stealing her grandmother’s car.
“They didn’t have to kill the guy, they really didn’t, I mean he’s 95-years-old, they didn’t have to do that,” said friend Donald Buzzee. “If they wanted money or they wanted the car, they would have just handed it to them. Why do you gotta kill the guy?”
Police said Hart and Smith took the Fisher's Toyota Corolla and were taken into custody not far from where car was found.
A motive for the home invasion has not been revealed, but Hart’s landlord’s daughter says her mother recently kicked him out of the lower level of an Athol apartment because he was allegedly dealing drugs.
“After he got kicked out he broke back in, into our downstairs, so we had to call the cops,” said Tiffany Wilder, who lived above the suspect.
Wilder says they also called the police on Smith, who she says recently started dating Hart.
“That Brittany girl, she was in the car and she was screaming at my mom and I don’t know why she was doing that and I came outside and she was trying to come up to me and attack me so I called the cops,” Wilder said.
Neighbor Charles Starkey says he’s shocked someone he lived so close to would be charged with such a horrific crime.
“Makes me nervous, very nervous, we’re kind of a tight knit community here,” said Starkey. “For somebody to do that, they must have been pretty desperate.”
Police continue to investigate whether there is a connection between the elderly victims in Orange and the young suspects in Athol.
Hart and Smith are being held without bail and are expected to be arraigned on fugitive from justice warrants in Virginia on Tuesday.
If they waive rendition, they could be back in Massachusetts to face charges as early as Thursday.