Now, police say they have the woman's co-worker in custody, CBS2's Kiran Dhillon reported Thursday.
In the quiet borough of Northvale, news of 43-year-old Jeanette Willem's death is reverberating throughout the community.
"It's shocking. It really is. That's terrible, really terrible," said Mimi Levine, who used to work in Northvale.
Willem was found brutally killed Wednesday morning where she worked at bicycle company Jamis Bikes, located in the Ludlow Avenue industrial complex abutting the Rockleigh Golf Course.
The Bergen County Prosecutor's Office said she had been attacked and killed with a hammer.
"That's barbaric any time taking anyone's life, but to brutally kill someone with a hammer, that's pretty tough to swallow," said Bob Press, owner of Changing Heads Salon.
Christian Giron, 24, one of Willem's co-workers, who lived in nearby Harrington Park, is charged with murder.
Giron allegedly approached Willem in the morning and later admitted to stealing credit cards from her. Authorities said he then took off, changed his clothes and then, himself, called 911.
One man's son went to high school with the suspect.
"The kids are very shocked because they don't know about him much," Steve Lee said.
In a statement, Jamis Bikes called the death senseless and tragic adding, "Jamis Bikes is a small and tight-knit group and Jeanette has been a dedicated member of our team for 20 years. We are devastated."
CBS2 spoke to family and friends of Willem. They were not comfortable speaking on camera, but said she was a wonderful person and they are heartbroken by her death.
Meanwhile, her family has started a GoFundMe page to help with funeral costs.
People who work and live in the borough said they can't believe a brutal murder has happened in this tiny, close-knit neighborhood.
"Unexpected. This town is very, very safe. In, I can say, the whole world, it's one of the safest places," Lee said.
They now sending their prayers to the Willem family.
Giron is also facing additional charges, including weapons possession and hindering apprehension.
CBS2's Kiran Dhillon contributed to this report.
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