WARREN, Mich. (WJBK) - A grandmother was found murdered inside of her apartment Wednesday morning. Police say they have a person of interest in the case but he's not in custody yet. Meanwhile her family says she knew the man.
It was barely 24 hours after Renee Lawrence learned her 62-year-old mother, Donna, was killed inside of her apartment and when she woke up Thursday, it was all she could think about.
"I woke up at 6 o'clock this morning and the first thing I said was someone killed my mother. Someone killed my mom," Lawrence said.
Donna was found Wednesday morning with a wound to her head, lying on the kitchen floor. Her apartment was ransacked and her purse and car were both stolen. Neighbors said a man was seen banging on her door and windows only 30 minutes before she was found dead.
On Thursday, officials say that man may be 34-year-old Anthony Iannotti.
"The first time I ever heard him speak, his words were 'that's why I got married - so I can have somebody to beat on.' That's what he said," Lawrence said.
Lawrence said her and her mother met him a few months ago when a family friend passed away. That friend was a cousin on Iannoti and Lawrence said she, her mom, and Iannotti helped fix up her house to sell. She said he even brought a bed to Donna's home and put it together.
"That's the only contact that Anthony has ever had with my mom, was to move the bed," Lawrence said.
Lawrence says they never really felt afraid of Iannotti. However, his former girlfriend and mother to one of his children, Emily Cooper, says she's spent years fearing him.
"I didn't jump right away and assume it was him, but it didn't surprise me when he was named a person of interest," Cooper said.
The two met in 2010 and Cooper says they began dating and she became pregnant. She says says she didn't know of his criminal past and when she found out, she left him. That's when she said he started stalking her.
"My first thought when he was released was how do I hide and how do I stay away from him?" Cooper said.
His current wife and family say they're in hiding on Thursday. Cooper says he's tried strangling his wife with her daughter inside the home.
"He did attack her after she came home one night. She came home with friends and my daughter was in the house," Cooper said.
Court records show Iannotti has faced charges of assault with intent to do great bodily harm, aggravated stalking, weapons charges, receiving and concealing a motor vehicle and fleeing police. Cooper says he was just released from jail Tuesday and cut off his tether.
"It's a very disconcerting feeling in the pit of your stomach knowing that you could be intertwined with someone who could be dangerous," Cooper said.
In her heart, Cooper says she believes Iannotti was involved Donna Lawrence's death
Renee says she simply wants peace for her mother and for whoever killed her, to be caught.
"My mom would've given her life to stop someone else from getting hurt. And she may have," she said.