Man charged in elderly woman's murder, knew her for 5 decades

- A man is charged with capital murder in the death of a 79-year old widow in Hedwig Village who he had known his whole life.

Hedwig Village police announced that 55-year old Michael Susberry, the son of Janiel Bernard's longtime housekeeper, surrendered to police on Tuesday and confessed to the crime.

"I cannot imagine a more senseless murder," said Hedwig Village Police Department Chief David A. Gott during a news conference on Tuesday following the arrest.

Police say Susberry's mother had been a housekeeper for Bernard's family for 57 years. Susberry's mother had retired in 2012. When asked how she responded to the discovery of her son's confession, a police spokesman says she was in disbelief.

"After she retired, Ms. Bernard continued to support [Ms. Susberry]," explained Chief Gott. "Basically gave her a monthly stipend, a retirement check."

Police say Susberry was one of two sons who would pick up that check for their mother each month. Over the Independence Day weekend, police say he visited Bernard for what would be the last time.

"He knocked on the door, she knew him, she recognized him and she allowed him in," described Gott, who added that Susberry admits to having gone over with the intention of committing the robbery. Gott also said Bernard greeted him like family as she normally would, offered him something to drink and invited him to sit on the couch to rest.

Police say after he asked to use the restroom, Susberry admitted that he faked a fall in the hallway.

"He grabbed her, he headbutted her to the ground and then he pulled out a knife and stabbed her several times," added Gott.

Police say Susberry left in Bernard's vehicle, taking only some jewelry and cash.

Legal documents obtained by FOX 26 News show Susberry has a lengthy criminal history with numerous prior arrests for aggravated robberies, kidnapping, and at one point, pulling a knife on a family member.

"He also received a life sentence some time back in the 1980s for one of those aggravated robberies," said Gott. He also said Susberry only served 20 years of that sentence. "Obviously if he had served out that life sentence, we wouldn't be here today."

As for a possible motive, Gott said Susberry, "claimed that he has a cocaine habit that he needed to feed and he claimed he was going over there to get some money."

Hedwig Village police thanked METRO officers who they say helped track the suspect's METRO Card swipes and used surveillance footage to discover he had been in the area around the time of Bernard's death.

As for remorse, Gott said Susberry mostly appeared concerned that the Bernard family not hold the crime against his mother. He was taken to Harris County jail on Monday night.

Police say they feel the case is already solid but do have additional evidence to present.

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