Authorities arrested a suspect in the killing of Patrice Ward after he allegedly attacked another couple nearby
Patrice Ward
Patrice Ward

A Texas man suspected in the beating death of a 70-year-old neighbor is in jail after authorities accused him with attacking her and another couple less than a mile away.

The 70-year-old victim, Patrice Marie Ward, was found unresponsive in her Pasadena home Tuesday by her housekeeper, reports Fox 26 Houston.

Investigators who encountered the victim dead from a beating said two guns were among the items missing from her ransacked townhome, reports KHOU.

One of those allegedly stolen guns was left behind Thursday at the home of a couple less than half a mile away, who reported they'd fought off a home invader who kicked in the front door and attacked the man and woman with a tire iron, police said, according to the outlet.

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The alleged assailant stole the victims' car after the man fought him off, and authorities said they were able to track the stolen car back to the townhome complex where Ward and the suspect lived two doors apart.

A trail of blood near the back entrance to a residence at the complex led them to the suspect.

Gilbert Viera, 35, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, and burglary with intent to commit other felony, according to online jail records of the Harris County Sheriff's Office. He is being held on a $500,000 bond on the first charge, and $100,000 each on the others.

Gilbert Viera
Gilbert Viera

The records do not indicate whether he has an attorney.

At a probable cause bond hearing Saturday, a judge said, "He is alleged to have broken into a stranger's house and alleged to have beat them as they lay in their bed with either a tire iron or a gun," reports KTRK. "It's not clear, because they were asleep when the beatings began."

Police said Viera had lived in the townhome complex for only several months following his release from prison after a four-year sentence on a burglary conviction, according to Fox 26 Houston.

A neighbor of Ward's, who declined to be identified, told the outlet: "We went to church together. We were friends, and it's very difficult because I wake up at night and I can't sleep anymore."

A neighbor who spoke to KHOU said: "She was a very special person and we as a community are really devastated at her loss."