A home health aide was charged with murder yesterday in the beating death of an elderly Cherry Hill man.

Yolanda Steele, 32, of Camden, allegedly attacked her boss Dec. 11 after he began to investigate the disappearance of large sums of money from his bank accounts, authorities said.

Sidney Wenof, 82, died Wednesday at Cooper University Hospital in Camden of injuries he received in the attack followed by pneumonia, said Jason Laughlin, spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.

According to prosecutors, an investigation after the incident revealed that Steele had forged Wenof's signature on stolen checks on more than one occasion. Wenof had noticed money was missing and was taking steps to identify who was responsible.

It was unclear whether Wenof suspected Steele of theft, Laughlin said. Nor are investigators certain what prompted the attack, he said.

Steele struck the retired businessman repeatedly with his cane, Laughlin said, while his wife, Theora, 82, looked on in horror.

One of the Wenofs pressed an emergency beeper during the attack, summoning an ambulance to their apartment, Laughlin said. Police arrived at the Frontage Road apartment soon after.

Wenof lapsed into a coma after arriving at Cooper University Hospital, where he remained until his death. He never regained consciousness.

An autopsy yesterday determined that Wenof died of blunt-force trauma followed by pneumonia acquired in the hospital. Steele, who was initially charged with aggravated assault, was charged with murder yesterday. She was being held last night at the Camden County jail. Arraignment is scheduled for this morning in Superior Court.