MAYS LANDING — The Ventnor woman charged in the fatal beating and robbery of her grandmother and mother in their high-rise condo spoke softly and cast her gaze downward Friday as she made her first court appearance in the case.

Judge Bernard E. DeLury asked Heather Barbera, 41, whether she understood the charges against her, which include two counts of murder, possession of a weapon — a nightstick — for an unlawful purpose and first-degree robbery.

“I understand them,” Barbera said, her voice low as she stood close to her public defender, Holly Bitters.

Conviction of a first-degree crime carries a possible sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison.

Assistant Prosecutor Rick McKelvey said a motion for pretrial detention was filed Thursday and that he would be giving Bitters evidence for the case before the next court appearance, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 9.

“It’s sad. It’s a really sad situation,” Bitters said outside the courtroom, adding she could not speak to the details of the case because she had not yet received discovery.

Elaine Rosen, 87, and her daughter Michelle Gordon, 67, were found dead at 10:25 a.m. July 8 inside a condo at Vassar Square Arms luxury condominiums at 4800 Boardwalk, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner said. Richard Rosen, 50, of Brooklyn, New York, said he found the bodies after he was unable to reach his sister and mother by phone.

For both victims, the cause of death was multiple blunt-impact injuries and the manner of death was homicide, Tyner said.

Barbera was extradited Thursday from New York, where police said she fled after the double homicide. She was arrested by New York City police July 11 at the Midtown Manhattan Port Authority and was held in the Rose M. Singer women’s facility on Rikers Island.

Barbera confessed to killing Rosen and Gordon after her New York City arrest, according to a report from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

While in New York, Barbera made purchases using credit cards she stole from her mother and grandmother after she killed them, according to the report.

Barbera was remanded to the Atlantic County jail after her appearance.

Contact: 609-272-7241 Twitter @ACPressMollyB

Staff Writer

My beat is public safety, following police and crime. I started in January 2018 here at the Press covering Egg Harbor and Galloway townships. Before that, I worked at the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., covering crime and writing obituaries.

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