Montgomery County Police

92-Year-Old Artist Killed by Her 26-Year-Old Tenant: Montgomery County Police

An autopsy will be performed Thursday, police said

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A 26-year-old woman has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder after telling officers she killed a 92-year-old woman she rented a room from, Montgomery County police said Wednesday. 

First responders arrived at a residence on Spruell Drive in Kensington around 8:20 a.m. Wednesday morning for a death investigation. When they got there, the suspect, Julia Birch, told them she had killed Nancy Ann Frankel, police said. 

According to charging documents, Birch told police she suffocated Frankel.

Authorities said they found Frankel’s body in the home and recovered evidence that supported Birch’s statement. 

After Birch was taken into custody, she was interviewed by Montgomery County Police and allegedly admitted to killing Frankel and then calling 911 to report the death.

Frankel was a well-known local artist. Neighbors say she lived in the house for at least 50 years, raising two children, teaching art students and displaying some of her sculptures.

Neighbors said they saw Birch coming and going from the house but didn’t know anything about her. It was uncommon for Frankel to rent out a room in her house, they said.


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An autopsy will be performed Thursday, police said. 

Birch is being held without bond.

More details about their relationship or the motive of the killing were not provided.

She has a preliminary hearing scheduled on August 27.

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