As friends began to worry that Thomas Carbin's routine seemed out of whack, his daughter climbed the steps to his apartment Monday, opened the door and saw him sitting by the computer.
Everything seemed fine, the high school senior thought, until she got a closer look.
"She thought he was playing a game with her. Then she saw all the blood," said Barbara Emmons, Carbin's sister-in-law.
The Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office said Carbin was murdered but has not released autopsy results or said how the 54-year-old ironworker died inside his Westville apartment.
Carbin's 2006 Chevrolet Colorado pickup was found later Monday afternoon outside the gate of Ironworker's Local 399 union hall in Westville, but authorities do not know how it got there.
Carbin, who had been separated from his wife and lived alone, was last reported seen by a friend Sunday night, authorities said. Emmons said that Carbin's friend had told the family that the normally affable Carbin had been acting bizarrely.
"He only cracked a door a little. He said 'I have company; I can't come out,' " Emmons said. "That's odd. That's not like him."
The next morning, Carbin didn't show up to get his daily coffee at the Tower Tavern, the bar he lived above, but since his car was gone, his friends there didn't get overly worried. His daughter made the grim discovery later that day.
"There was blood all over the front of him, like he had been shot or stabbed," Emmons said, relaying what her niece had told her. "She was in shock. Everybody's in shock."
Emmons said Carbin always drove to the nearby union hall looking for work, and she believes that the person who drove his truck there knew that and parked it at the hall to buy some time. "The person had to have known him," she said.
Authorities would not discuss a motive, but law-enforcement sources said the bar, where Carbin often hung out, was a popular hangout for members of outlaw motorcycle clubs, such as the Pagans, and investigators were looking for any possible connections. A woman who answered the phone at the bar yesterday declined to comment.
Emmons said that Carbin wasn't a gang member and that a group of Pagans beat him up about a year ago. She also said that his apartment had recently been broken into.
Emmons said Carbin had never been in serious trouble with the law, didn't have much money and didn't get involved with illegal drugs.
"Tom is one of those guys everybody says is such a nice guy," she said. "He didn't have anything. He was kind of down on his luck. He was just such a nice guy, didn't have any enemies."