Kathryn Wilson's body had lain in her Fishtown home for three days when, police say, one of her killers walked into the 26th District police station Monday morning.
Jane Johnson told the officers that she thought her friend might be dead. Johnson said her boyfriend was responsible.
She led officers to Wilson's house on the 1300 block of Earl Street, where they found the 54-year-old's body, bruised and beaten.
Johnson was taken to the homicide unit, where, after a few hours of questioning, she admitted that she, too, had participated in the beating, homicide Capt. James Clark said Monday night.
Johnson, 47, and James Cheever, 50, were arrested and charged Monday night with murder.
Clark said Johnson had learned that Wilson kept money in the house - between $20,000 and $25,000 - and had come up with a plan to steal it.
"They went in with the intent to beat and rob her," Clark said, "and it escalated into murder."
Wilson knew the couple well. Johnson had cleaned Wilson's house for years, Clark said; Cheever did odd jobs for her on occasion.
When they showed up at her door on Friday, Wilson let them in without question, Clark said. Then, he said, the pair beat her with a wrench until she told them where her money was hidden.
They ransacked the house, split the cash between them, and fled, Clark said. Wilson's body lay in her house, undiscovered, until Johnson decided to "get in front of this thing" Monday morning, Clark said, and tried to pin the deed on her boyfriend.
Wilson lived alone in her rowhouse with two small dogs. Neighbors said she had been a block captain on tiny Earl Street for years.
She was fastidious about trash and noise on the block, they said, and had done her best to keep neighborhood drug dealers off it.
"She had a big personality," said Ragen Lowek, who lives across the street. "You could tell she really cared about the block."
Neighbors said they had noticed letters piling up in her mailbox over the weekend, which was unusual.
"You were guaranteed to see her once or twice every day," said Sean Price, who lives on the block. "It's just sad to know that happened."