SANGER – The violent death of a 100-year-old man in Sanger has left investigators baffled and local citizens angry and scared.
Friends of Joe Fischer say the man who had lived for a century was still full of life and as smart as ever. That life came to an abrupt end last week when he was apparently beaten to death.
Sanger police said that Fischer was found injured in his apartment around midday on Aug. 8 at the Elderberry at Bethel senior-living center. Fischer was transported to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, where he died three days later from his injuries, which included cracked ribs, a punctured lung and lacerations on his arms.
Police are investigating Fischer’s death as a homicide. According to police, Fischer was able to give a partial statement while he was still inside his apartment, confirming that he had been attacked. Police were not able to get any more information out of him because of his condition.
The attack left his neighbors in the senior citizen complex shaken.
“I feel terrible,” said his neighbor, Jane Crump. “I think it’s awful that someone could do that to somebody that’s at that age.”
The Sanger Police Department has three investigators assigned to the case and they have made it their priority.
“That’s our prime focus,” said Corporal Brandon Coles. “There are no other investigations we are working on. This is what we’re doing.”
The investigators don’t yet know if Fischer was picked at random or intentionally targeted. There was nothing missing from Fischer’s apartment, according to the police.
So far, police have not named any suspects. One neighbor reported to the police that she heard a man’s voice – not Fischer’s – inside of Fischer’s apartment on the Monday that Fischer was attacked. In the last week, police have received more than 20 tips on the case.
Police held a meeting on Tuesday with neighbors and other community members at the complex where Fischer lived in the hopes of learning more information that could help them with the case.
“Maybe if there are people in there who are not coming forward with some information that we might need for the investigation, they might feel more comfortable after meeting with us and talking with us,” Coles said.
Mary Soto, a caregiver for a senior at the complex, said that Fischer’s death has left residents frightened.
“Before, we did used to leave the door open, because we know everyone, many people visit,” Soto said. “Now we don’t.”
The investigators also used the meeting to teach those in attendance how to protect themselves, and urged them to call 9-1-1 if they see suspicious behavior.
Meanwhile, family and friends of Fischer are still recovering from the shock of his death and mourning the loss.
“He was just a good citizen, you know,” said his son, Joe Fischer Jr. “He wasn’t out to take advantage of anyone.”
Fischer Jr. added that this has been a traumatic time and the family is “just handling it day by day.”
“I hope they’ll come forward,” Alyce Holland, the victim’s sister, said about the attacker. “We would like to know who did it.”
A memorial and candlelight vigil will be held for Joe Fischer 8 p.m. Wednesday outside the Elderberry at Bethel Apartments.