MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - It's a horrific crime that has angered many - an elderly Montgomery woman beaten to death inside her home. As police continue to search for the killer, loved ones are speaking out about the victim who was well known and well liked.
Mary Lou Gedel, who went by Lou, was murdered last week on the city's west side. At 92, she was still very active.
Those closest to her revealed more about her life, including her successful career and how, even in retirement, she was leaving her mark on the community.
Alice McMullan has so many fond memories of time spent with Gedel. They met at church, Messiah Lutheran, about 15 years ago.
"If I missed church, she'd call me to see if everything was ok," McMullan said. "We would go to lunches after church and that got to be an every Sunday thing. She was a good friend. She was a kind and gentle person."
They spoke to each other once a week during the week and traveled together.
"It was just a good friendship," she said. "She had a lot of wonderful church friends. All the people in the choir were her friends. She really enjoyed all of them. She loved to sing so the choir was a big part of her life, her retirement."
McMullan spoke to Gedel before she was killed and then got a call last Monday morning when others weren't able to contact her. She went over to her house and learned what had happened.
Gedel was found dead in her home in the 1900 block of South Court Street, near the intersection of West Fairview Avenue and Court Street, where she lived alone. An acquaintance reported that the victim had not been seen in several days, according to police.
McMullan and others at the Montgomery Area Council on Aging are mourning Gedel's death. She drove herself to MACOA for activities and fellowship and was a member of MACOA's Archibald Center for 20 years.
She participated in luncheons, dances, and game day at the MACOA East location on Bell Road. She loved German Shepherds and adopted two of them, including the recent of adoption of a dog who was in the home when she was brutally attacked.
Suzanne Dopp knew Lou Gedel for 30 years. They met at church and reconnected when Dopp started volunteering at MACOA.
"She always came to the luncheons on the third Tuesdays of every month. I work the reception desk here and she would always stop and talk to me because she knows I love dogs as much as I do," Dopp said. "She did line dancing here once a week and she came to the luncheons. She was also very active in her church."
She said Dopp's murder has affected everyone at MACOA.
"We were all concerned about what happened and how it had happened," she added. "She just enjoyed life. I will miss seeing her here."
Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey spoke out about the heinous killing at the scene on Tuesday.
"I'm angry about this case. I'm angry about the number of shootings and homicides we've had, but this case in particular. Who in the world would do this to a defenseless 92-year-old lady? She's living her life and they come in and they take her life from her in such a brutal fashion. The only type of person who would do this is just pure evil with no conscience. I can guarantee you that person will be found and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," he said.
MPD continues to investigate and the District Attorney's Office has offered their full assistance to find whoever was responsible.
"Unfortunately, this city is under siege right now. We are being attacked almost daily with all these gunshots and murders and I'm tired of it. All I know to do as district attorney is get the message out that if you pick up a gun and using it in a violent crime or hurting someone, we're going to be asking that you be sent to prison for the rest of your life. My track record shows that's happening," the district attorney said.
He says more police officers, detectives and prosecutors are needed to handle cases.
"It is not the time to go cheap on law enforcement. We need more resources and money poured into law enforcement to save our city before it's too late," Bailey stated.
He knows the community is upset and says they should be.
"This lady was living her life and having a good time in her twilight years. She was very active at MACOA and line dancing and doing all kinds of things. Everyone that lives in Montgomery deserves to live in peace and live free of violence and not worry about their loved ones being attacked and killed," he added.
Alice McMullan says Gedel has no family, but she surrounded herself with friends. She was originally from Marietta, Ohio, and got her master's degree in nutrition from Cornell University. She worked at Johns Hopkins University and left Baltimore for Alabama in the late 1960s. She worked for the Alabama Department of Public Health. Friends believe she was an integral part of the WIC program, a supplemental nutrition program for pregnant women, breastfeeding women, women who had a baby within the last six months, infants, and children under the age of five.
McMullan believes Gedel's background in nutrition kept her healthy and strong into her 90s.
"She was active every day," she said. "She attended luncheons and activities, like line dancing and liked to play dominoes. She always had something going on. I'll remember her enthusiasm for each day, her gentleness, and kindness that she put out to people. She really liked people."
A memorial service for Lou Gedel will be held Saturday at 2 p.m. at Messiah Lutheran (6670 Vaughn Road in Montgomery). She'll be laid to rest in Ohio.
Betty Taylor says Gedel is already missed and will be remembered by everyone at MACOA.
"She was always speaking to everyone. She just loved to be here with everybody. I was shocked when I heard about what happened last week. I just couldn't imagine it, she said. "I think she just enjoyed the company. She enjoyed people and being around people and she was always asking about people. She always had a smile on her face."
Gedel's dog is being cared for by her friend.