'Pillar of the community' killed inside her Ann Arbor home; neighborhood stunned

A 51-year-old woman who was regarded as a pillar of the community was found murdered in her Ann Arbor home Thursday.

Jude Walton's body was found this afternoon in her Chapin Street residence during a welfare check. She had failed to show up for work at Avalon Housing, a nonprofit that helps the homeless.

"It’s hard to put into words what Jude meant to this community," said Nina Jackson Levin, who lives next door.

"She was real so clever, so loving, very passionate," said Jess Francis.

The loss is devastating for so many that knew her - calling her the fairy godmother of the neighborhood.

"We can’t disclose a lot of information," said Aimee Metzer, interim police chief, of Ann Arbor. "We can tell that there were obvious signs that this was a homicide."

Police say the suspect broke a back window to enter the home.

"The majority of the house appeared normal, and no signs of an excessive amount of things taken or damaged," Metzer said.

But who would want to kill Jude Walton? Originally from England — friends and other people who know her say she started making a difference in Ann Arbor, when she moved here 25 years ago.

"She was kind of a pillar in the community for her outreach work, her support and advocacy for the homeless population," Metzer said.

Next-door neighbors Jess and Nina are still shaken by the tragedy.

"We are really angry and really sad," Jess said. "This was a bright light."

"We lost a Giant in the community," said Nina.

Police are not commenting about a possible motive or a possible suspect.

Did the murderer know Jude — or was this just a random attack?

"If I can't prove who it is and a motive at this time, I cannot say that there is not a threat to the community," said Metzer.

"For this to happen to anybody is unthinkable but for this to happen to one of our own - who has given so much to the community -  feels like such a profound violation," Nina said.