Jean Simmons asked that question Thursday while standing on her front porch, staring across the street at the home of her neighbor for 35 years.
On Wednesday, Jane Stokes, 70, was found slain inside the small frame house on Hardin Street in East Ridge, the home where she had spent more than half her life with her husband.
Police said an assailant forced his way in, covered her face in plastic and bound her hands.
The motive appears to be robbery. East Ridge Police Department spokesman Erik Hopkins said police have photos from a surveillance camera showing a man using Stokes’ credit card at an ATM. Her credit cards also were used throughout Chattanooga, he said.
Simmons said Stokes’ husband died several years ago. She worked at a certified public accountant’s office near Warehouse Row, Simmons said. Stokes took trips with her two daughters and spent time with them last weekend, her neighbor said.
“She was a nice lady,” Simmons said.
Simmons said she arrived home Tuesday night from vacation. Wednesday, she and other neighbors watched as officers taped off Stokes’ property.
“This is something you would never, ever really thought would ever happen,” Simmons said after unlocking numerous layers of locks on her front door just to enter.
Simmons, who lives with her husband, said she doesn’t feel as safe in her own home. She is considering arming herself with a gun.
“If somebody comes in my house, it’s going to be available,” she said. “What other protection is there? It will just be a defense — a security.”
Police have asked the public to help in the case.
“I’m optimistic that someone will recognize him and call in,” said Hopkins.