Police: 78-year-old woman was killed with a fireplace iron

FORT WAYNE, Ind, (WANE) – A Fort Wayne man is accused of beating a 78-year-old woman to death with a fireplace iron before giving her credit card to another man to buy a gaming console and other items.

Fort Wayne police have arrested and charged Zachary D. Reinders, 23, of Fort Wayne, with murder in connection to the death of a Diane Woods.

Family members had been unable to reach Woods for several days. She was found dead in her home in the 5700 block of Le Steele Boulevard on August 8 when her son went to check on her.

Photo of the house on Le Steele Boulevard.
Photo of the house on Le Steele Boulevard.

According to the affidavit for probable cause, Woods appeared to have been hit several times in the head with a fireplace iron, which was still at the scene. An autopsy performed the following day determined that she had died from blunt force trauma to the head and her death was ruled a homicide.

A neighbor noticed a wallet in her trash can and notified police, who she then allowed to search her property. The wallet was Woods’ and in the search police also found two pairs of shoes – one of which had blood on it. The neighbor told police the shoes belonged to Reinders, her son.

“Does it happen when family members don’t want a loved one to be sent off to prison or jail, incarcerated, it happens,” said Michael Joyner, Fort Wayne Police Department spokesperson. “I think more times than not they are more than willing to help investigators with the case.”

Police were able to get Reinders on the phone and make arrangements for him to come into the police station. Police collected DNA from Reinders. According to the affidavit of probable cause, tests later confirmed that the pair of shoes had Reinders DNA inside and Woods’ blood on the outside.

In the following days, police were able to determine that Reinders had given an accomplice Woods’ credit card to buy items such as a Playstation 4, video games and hats.

The accomplice was brought in and told police about how he had been given Woods’ credit card and used it to make several purchases. The Allen County prosecutor’s office said there currently no charges filed against the accomplice, but the investigation is ongoing.

One neighbor did speak to NewsChannel 15. The neighbor didn’t want to go on camera, but released the following statement about Woods and the type of neighbor she was:

She was quiet and kept to herself. She always had a smile and a wave as she drove by. If you ever needed anything, she would be the first person to give the shirt off her back. Our quiet neighborhood will never be the same without her.

Reinders, of Fort Wayne, was arrested on Tuesday for the murder of Woods by the Fort Wayne Police Department Gang and Violent Crimes Unit. He faces charges of murder, felony murder, and robbery. As of Tuesday evening, he was being held without bond at the Allen County Jail.

Woods’ death is the 9th homicide in Allen County in 2014.

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