Thomas Carbin's daughter opened the door of her father's apartment Monday, above a battered Westville bar, and found the burly ironworker's dead body slumped in a chair.

Carbin was last seen alive Sunday night by a friend who visited his place above Tower Tavern, according to the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office, which has ruled the death a homicide.

On Monday, Carbin's black 2006 Chevrolet Colorado pickup was parked outside the gates of a nearby ironworkers' union hall, hours after his body was discovered about 1:15 p.m., officials said.

His death has puzzled Carbin's family. He didn't allow his friend inside Sunday because he said he had company, according to Christine Brennan, Carbin's sister-in-law.

His 18-year-old daughter used her key to enter the locked apartment, where Carbin lived alone.

"It's over 24 hours now, and we know nothing," Brennan, of Deptford, said Tuesday. "We are trying to figure out who would do this. Tom was a fun-loving guy. He always made people laugh."

Carbin, 54, was unemployed and went almost daily to the local ironworkers union office, a half-mile away on Crown Point Road, to look for work, said Richard Sweeney, the union's business representative and financial secretary.

The welder and pipe fitter would show up around 5:30 a.m., sign in, and wait until about 7:30 a.m., Sweeney said.

But Sweeney, who usually gets to the hall around 4:30 a.m., didn't see Corbin on Monday. About 10, he noticed Carbin's black truck parked outside.

"I don't know how anybody could do that to him," Sweeney said. "He was such a big, strong guy."

Gloucester County authorities wouldn't say how the Westville native had been killed. Autopsy results are pending.

Authorities declined to confirm details provided by Carbin's family.

Brennan said Carbin's daughter, Christina, a senior at Gateway Regional High School, often checked on her father, who had heart problems.

"She was like Daddy's little girl," Brennan said.

Carbin was sitting at a desk in front of a computer when Christina found him, she said.

Carbin and his daughter had planned to meet Monday morning, authorities said.

Because of his history, Carbin had stopped smoking and was trying to live a healthy life, Brennan said. "Even though he lived above a bar, he wasn't a drunk," she said.

Carbin was separated from his wife, Renee, but had a good relationship with her and their two children. The couple's son, Thomas, 21, works for the borough, Brennan said.

Carbin lived less than a half-mile from his family.

"He was a true gentleman," Sweeney said, "just a nice guy."