A 24-year-old New York City woman is accused of murdering her 70-year-old downstairs neighbor, who was found in her apartment with her throat slashed and a trail leading to the alleged killer’s home, PEOPLE confirms.
On Wednesday, following an investigation, Anya Johnston, 24, was charged with murder and burglary in the death of her neighbor, Susan Trott, a spokesperson for the New York City Police Department tells PEOPLE.
Officers responding to a 911 call at Trott’s Upper West Side apartment on Oct. 21 found her unconscious and unresponsive with a laceration to her neck, the NYPD says. She was pronounced dead at the scene, and the medical examiner’s office has said the longtime advertising copywriter died from a stab wound.
Police found no signs of forced entry but spotted a trail of blood leading from Trott’s apartment to the one upstairs where Johnson lives with her mother, local station WCBS reports.
Detectives searched Johnson’s home and found a bloodied shoe and other evidence allegedly tying Johnston to the stabbing, the Times reports.
On the day of the murder, Johnson had been hospitalized after she’d gone missing for a week. She had told her family she was “mentally unstable,” the Times reports.
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She was given a psychiatric evaluation before she was arrested Wednesday, the Times reports.
Police do not yet have a clear motive for the killing, according to the Times.
Victim Was Animal Lover with ‘Genuinely Warm with a Good Heart’
Trott’s longtime friend, Judy Segaloff tells PEOPLE, “I don’t know why someone would do this to her.” She adds, “If someone was robbing her, she’s the type of person who would go to her jewelry box and tell them, ‘No, take this one. It looks better on you. That was Sue.’ “
Calling her longtime friend and colleague “genuinely warm with a good heart,” Segaloff says, “She didn’t have a bad bone in her body.”
Trott was an animal lover who fed the birds and squirrels in her neighborhood and took in abused dogs over the years. “Sue rescued people and she rescued animals,” she says. “That was her nature. If she knew someone was in distress or not standing up for themselves, she would bolster them. She was the same way with the animals.”
After graduating from Manhattan’s Pratt Institute, Trott began a lifelong career in advertising, working most recently as a senior copywriter and strategist who divided her time between New York and London, Trott wrote on her LinkedIn page.
“She was uncompromising when it came to work,” says Segaloff, who had worked with her since the late 1980’s. “She really knew her stuff advertising-wise and worked campaigns for Levis and other major brands.”
Trott was also youthful, her friend says.
“She was 70 but you would never know she was 70,” says Segaloff.
Trott had also penned a book of poetry about dogs.
“It’s so hard to believe she’s gone. It’s really hard to fathom. I am going to miss her very much.”
It is unclear whether Johnston has retained an attorney who can speak on her behalf. She has not yet entered a plea.