Woman bludgeoned landlord to death after forging cheques to pay gambling debts

A woman has been charged with murder after she beat her former landlord and friend to death with a hammer.

Xiu Fang Ke, 43, from Massachusetts, US, was arrested in connection with the brutal attack on Leonard Garber, 65, resulting in his death.

Prosecutors believe she clobbered him and hid his body after he learned she had been forging cheques in his name to the tune of $40,000 (£36,000), in a bid to clear her gambling debts.

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A press release by Newton Police Department, which investigated the incident, said: "The preliminary investigation revealed that the defendant had allegedly been forging checks from the victim’s accounts and had allegedly stolen over $40,000,” the press release said.

“When the victim became aware of the theft, he confronted the defendant and she allegedly struck and killed him and then attempted to hide the body.

"Police reviewed financial records and surveillance footage from Mr. Garber’s home that allegedly showed an Asian female, later identified as [Ke], entering the victim’s home in the days prior to his body being located.”

The police says it was contacted by Garber's family who reported him missing on Monday (September 26), saying they hadn't heard from him in more than a week.

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Officers went to the man's home to conduct a wellness check, but couldn't find Garber.

The family then contacted police again the next day, prompting officers to carry out two more wellness checks.

Officers found nothing during the first check but at around 3pm local time on Tuesday, September 27, they entered the residence to find Garber's body "wrapped in a curtain, under construction materials and under several other heavy items," according to a press release issued by the department.

Police said it seemed that Garber's body may have been hidden there for more than a day and said his body "had been placed in such a way as to conceal it."

Investigators then learned Garber had recently been "spending time with a female former tenant," who it was soon discovered was Ke.

In court on Wednesday (September 28), prosecutors said Ke, who was also Garber's ex-tenant, confessed to stealing the money and killing Garber.

"During the interview, the defendant admitted that she had stolen checks from Leonard Garber and that she had killed him," Assistant District Attorney Julie Kunkel reportedly said during the proceedings.

"She later stated that she had used a hammer and hid his body in the location where it was eventually found by police."

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Investigators have since found evidence that Ke had stolen and forged checks in the past, according to Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, with prosecutors believing she committed the fraud in a bid to alleviate her mounting gambling debts.

Ryan believes Garber learned Ke was stealing from him and confronted her at some point between Thursday and Saturday before he was reported missing.

Prosecutors don't know whether the relationship between Garber and his ex-tenant was romantic.

Ke was arraigned on Wednesday and was ordered to remain in custody without bond.


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