By Beth Germano, WBZ-TV

FAIRHAVEN (CBS) — There’s been an eerie silence at the Fairhaven home of 69-year-old Joyce Howland since she was found murdered in her Hamlet Street home October 15. Now 36-year-old Joshua Silva of New Bedford is charged with her killing and with armed robbery.

Prosecutors say he had access to the victim’s home because he was installing insulation in her attic. “There was jewelry in plain view,” said prosecutor Patrick Driscoll. “The defendant is an admitted drug user, using heroin.”

Joyce Howland’s friend and minister, Rev. Betty McClure says he took advantage of the retired Fairhaven school teacher who was active in local clubs, played golf, and was living a quiet life. “It’s deep, deep sadness. I’m sure the anger will come but for now it’s sadness.”

What happened inside her home was brutal, as prosecutors say the victim’s throat was slit. “This 69-year-old woman’s head was almost severed, she was living by herself,” said Bristol County district attorney Sam Sutter. He calls it a tragic case of elder abuse and points to the need for seniors to learn to better protect themselves.

Neighbor’s say a handyman’s truck was in the driveway in the days before her murder but they didn’t think too much of it. A friend found her body after checking in on her when Joyce Howland failed to show for a dinner invitation. Prosecutors say Silva’s truck is seen on surveillance video along Route 6 coming and going from the victim’s home, and he was apparently desperate for money by pawning the jewelry he allegedly stole.

For Rev. McClure there’s an arrest but little relief. “It doesn’t change anything,” she said.

Silva is being held without bail.


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