VENTNOR — The arrest of a city woman this week in the fatal beating and robbery of her grandmother and mother shocked many who knew the family in this Downbeach resort.

“We’re still in shock. It was a brutal murder. You don’t hear about that too often down here,” Cheryl Venezia, owner of Annette’s Restaurant on Dorset Avenue, told The Press of Atlantic City on Thursday.

Elaine Rosen, 87, and her daughter Michelle Gordon, 67, were found dead at 10:25 a.m. Sunday inside a residence at the luxury high-rise Vassar Square Condominiums at 4800 Boardwalk, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner said in a statement. For both victims, the cause of death was multiple blunt impact injuries and the manner of death was homicide, Tyner said.

Heather Barbera, 41, of Ventnor, remained in custody Thursday after she was charged Wednesday with two counts of murder, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose — a nightstick — and robbery, he said. Barbera was taken to the New York Police Department Midtown South Precinct pending extradition to New Jersey, authorities said.

Venezia said Rosen had visited the restaurant for the past 10 years and Rosen and Gordon ate there three to four times a week for the past four years.

The mother and daughter were last in the restaurant Saturday — one day before they were killed.

“We were probably the last people to see them,” Venezia said.

Venezia described the mother and daughter as nice and quiet.

Rosen usually ordered either a grilled cheese sandwich with bacon and tomato or a bowl of oatmeal. Gordon ordered fish and burgers. They often came in about 1 p.m. and were the last people in the restaurant before it closed at 2 p.m., Venezia said.

Venezia said Barbera had been coming to the restaurant with her mother and grandmother in recent weeks and had also had lunch there prior to the winter.

She said Barbera and Gordon sometimes had mother-daughter disputes at the eatery, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Richard Rosen, 50, of Brooklyn, New York, said in a telephone interview he discovered the bodies of his sister and mother Sunday when he couldn’t reach them and went to check on them. Rosen said a security guard let him in the apartment after there was no answer to his knock on the door.

Richard Rosen did not return a phone call Thursday. However, in a telephone interview Wednesday night, he mourned them.

“I lost them on the same day,” Rosen said.

And, of Rosen’s niece, Heather Barbera, he said: “She killed my whole life.”

Rosen described his mother and sister as “simple, quiet people.”

He also said Wednesday he “knew” it was his niece all along. However, Rosen said, he didn’t discuss his opinion with the media Tuesday out of concern his niece wouldn’t get caught.

However, “I knew 100 percent that she did it,” Rosen said, adding he had no relationship with Barbera. He said he “wanted” police to arrest her.

Tyner’s statement said Barbera took a bus to New York City after committing the killings.

Venezia said she and her staff also were shocked when they learned Wednesday that Barbera was charged in the slayings.

Barbera was identified Wednesday afternoon at the Midtown Manhattan Port Authority at 42nd Street and Ninth Avenue by New York police officers and taken into custody, Tyner said.

The Prosecutor’s Major Crimes Unit and the Ventnor Police Department investigated the deaths, authorities said.

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Contact: 609-272-7258 MReil@pressofac.com Twitter @acpressmaxreil

I’ve written for multiple publications including Levittown Now, Passyunk Post, Philadelphia Neighborhoods,Temple News and JUMP Magazine. I’ve covered arts, entertainment, business, music, sports and local government. Experienced in videography.

Twenty years as a staff writer in the features department, specializing in entertainment and the arts at The Press of Atlantic City.

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