Debra Jones, who was found killed Friday in her northeast Fort Wayne home, was a quiet person who had a protective dog, a neighbor said.
Don Hobbs, president of the Creekwood Neighborhood Association, lives just around the corner from Jones' home in the 5500 block of Myanna Lane. Her daughter, Erika (Freddie) Alcantar of Fort Wayne, discovered Jones' body about 1 p.m. Friday and called police.
The Allen County coroner's office performed an autopsy Saturday and declared Jones' death a homicide, the 30th homicide victim in Allen County this year. The coroner's office reported Jones, 59, died from loss of blood after suffering a “sharp force injury of the neck.”
Fort Wayne Police released few details about the case initially and no new information Sunday. They are conducting the investigation in collaboration with the coroner's office and Allen County prosecutor's office.
Hobbs said he had met Jones twice in the three or four years she had lived in Creekwood subdivision, which has 195 homes. He also had met her daughter and her son, Chase Jones of Fort Wayne, but each now-adult child only once and not at the same time.
Both her daughter and son had lived with Jones at various times at her home on Myanna Lane, but Hobbs doesn't believe either lived with her recently.
The neighborhood association had no problems of any kind with the family, he said.
“They did have a dog,” he said. “It was pretty protective when it was around.”
But Hobbs said he had never seen the dog out without it being on a leash.
Police reported Friday that officers found the dog when they entered the house to investigate the reported death. Animal Care and Control was called to the scene and removed the dog for safe keeping, police said.
Jones' death also was felt at Lutheran Life Villages, where she worked.
"Lutheran Life Villages is deeply saddened at the passing of Deb Jones," Alex Kiefer, the organization's president and CEO, said via email. "As the Director of Homecare, providing leadership for Lutheran Life Villages’ home-care services throughout northeast Indiana, Deb exemplified our mission to serve individuals and caregivers with compassion and respect, and did so as an expression of Christ’s love.
"We take comfort in God’s promise of eternal life to all who believe," Kiefer said. "Our prayers go out for her family, friends and co-workers as we grieve and seek the peace that passes all understanding."
Born in Hicksville, Ohio, Jones also was a director for Mary Kay cosmetics and a volunteer for the Allen County Community Emergency Response Team, obituary information said.
She was a member of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Fort Wayne, where she was active in Bible study and the Christ Renews His Parish program, the obituary said.
Along with her children, she is survived by her parents, Bob and Maxine Nighswander of Antwerp, Ohio; four sisters; two brothers; and a grandson.
Viewing is 2-8 p.m. Wednesday and 9-9:30 a.m. Thursday at Dooley Funeral Home in Antwerp, with a vigil service at 8 p.m. Wednesday. A funeral Mass will take place at 10 a.m. Thursday at Divine Mercy Catholic Church in Antwerp. Burial will be in Maumee Cemetery near Antwerp.
Memorials are to her family or to Masses.