LONGMONT — The family of a 78-year-old woman found slain Friday in her home on their family farm in Platteville is struggling to make sense of the violent crime, while investigators continue to piece together evidence to identify a suspect.
Scott Meining of Platteville on Friday afternoon found his mother Mary Jane Meining, 78, killed in the kitchen of her home. He said Sunday that one of her friends from a bridge club called him in the late afternoon when she didn’t come to a 1:30 p.m. gathering as planned. He lives nearby and was at her home, located on the 19000 block of Weld County Road 251/2, within minutes and he noticed the backdoor was open.
“It was evident from the first second that there was no hope for her,” he said of the scene he discovered.
Margie Martinez, spokeswoman for the Weld County Sheriff’s Office, said Sunday night that local authorities are looking for a white hatchback that was reportedly seen near the home at the estimated time of the crime. She said witnesses described the vehicle as having rust spots, but that there is no suspect description for now and the attack seems to be random.
Eight investigators and a crime-scene analyst are working on the case for the sheriff’s office.
“That’s pretty much everybody,” Martinez said Sunday, adding that investigators believe the attack on Meining is related to the burglary of a home about a mile and a half away from the farm Friday. Initial reports didn’t link the two crimes.
Mary Jane Meining’s time of death is estimated between 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., the time her husband left home for the day until the time she was due at her bridge club.
Martinez said her throat had been lacerated.
Scott Meining said he drove by the home twice on standard tasks around noon Friday and didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, but he didn’t see his mother either.
Mary Jane Meining is survived by a large, mostly local family including five sons and their families. Her husband, Don Meining, still works with two of their sons in the Meining Cattle Company out of Platteville. Son, Ron Meining, owns and operates Meining Automotive in Longmont.
Ron Meining on Sunday night said his mother was a humble woman who still made lunches frequently for her adult sons while they worked on the farm. She taught third-grade in Berthoud from 1965 to 1971 and enjoyed working with children.
Ron Meining added that the family is receiving widespread support from the community and that people who call all seem to have a story to tell about how his mother was the “salt of the Earth.”
“She had no real idea of how many lives she really touched just by being a good person,” Ron Meining said.
She was born in Berthoud in 1927 and graduated from Berthoud High School in 1946. She earned her bachelor’s degree in home economics from Colorado A&M, which is now Colorado State University, in 1949. She married Don Meining in 1948.
They lived in Berthoud and in Mead, before buying a farm near Platteville. They purchased their present farm in 1984 and had built the home where she was found Friday in 2002.
Scott Meining said her cooking was famous among family and friends. Both brothers noted her love for bridge and socializing with friends. At 78 she was still “spry” and active, Ron Meining said.
“It is just so senseless,” he added, noting that his mother was unlikely to fight back and, while in good health, weighed only about 100 pounds.
The brothers said the family isn’t yet focused on the investigation.
“We’re all still in shock,” Ron Meining said. “Right now we’re not interested about getting revenge or finding the person. We’re all about dealing with the loss.”
Scott Meining said the family hopes the suspect or suspects are found in order to prevent anyone else being victimized.
Services are scheduled for Wednesday.
Pierrette J. Shields can be reached at 303-684-5273, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.