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Joyce Roth, of Lehigh County, fatally stabbed during burglary

By Jaccii Farris, Reporter, JFarris@wfmz.com
Published On: Jun 10 2013 09:56:06 AM CDT
Updated On: Jun 10 2013 05:35:21 PM CDT

A joyous occasion turned tragic for a Lehigh County family.

SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. -

An elderly woman from South Whitehall Twp., Lehigh Co., was stabbed to death early Monday morning while visiting family near Hershey.

Joyce Roth was there to celebrate the graduation of her great granddaughter, but now her family is planning her funeral.

"I'm shaking. I'm overwhelmed," said Roth's neighbor, Cathy Reinert. "I can't believe this."

Roth, 87, was visiting her family in Derry Twp., Dauphin Co., for her great-granddaughter's graduation when her family found her stabbed to death in their home and their wallets and purses missing.

"A burglary gone bad when they confronted the victim, at this point. We have no suspects in custody," said Lt. Tim Roche, Derry Twp. Police Dept.

What police said they do have is the murder weapon: a kitchen knife, and a forensic team is combing the house looking for clues.

As one can imagine, Roth's family is devastated, saying she was an early-riser who probably caught the intruder in the house.

The family said Roth was a loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who lost her husband and one true love, Kenneth, six years ago.

They said she spent her days knitting for the Calvary Baptist prayer shawl ministry and roaming around her garden.

"She enjoyed being out in the gardens, and we'd trade plants once in a while," said neighbor Bill Tanner.

Among the roses, the clematis and the great lily in Roth's garden, there is also a statue of an angel. To her neighbors, they serve as reminders of the beauty Roth spread around her.

"There is always something colorful going on inside Joyce's garden," said Tanner. "I'm going to miss her."

Roth's friends and neighbors said they are praying for her family and that whoever killed her is caught.

As police continue their investigation, they said they have outside agencies assisting with the investigation.