On a wet and freezing Monday evening, Lillie McGlothen placed a wreath outside her mother's home.
Steps away, the front door to Marilyn Hegge's brown brick ranch had been sealed by forensics investigators. On Sunday, which was Hegge's 78th birthday, a granddaughter found her body beaten inside.
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"It's scary not knowing what happened to her," McGlothen said. "I can't think of anyone who would do this to her."
Lexington police are investigating Hegge's death as a homicide. She died of a head injury after an assault, according to a Fayette County coroner's report.
Shortly before 4 p.m. Sunday, police were called to Hegge's home at 3728 Red River Drive, off Man o' War Boulevard near Tates Creek Road, Lexington police Lt. Scott Blakely said.
Blakely said an adult granddaughter found Hegge in a bedroom, and the house was not broken into.
Neighbors said Hegge, who used a walker to get around, lived alone. A granddaughter sometimes stayed with her.
Hegge was retired from the University of Kentucky, where she worked as a neonatal nurse until 1992, a UK spokeswoman said.
She never married but adopted two children from Costa Rica, one of those McGlothen.
"She was a great woman. She adopted me when I was 5 years old. She was a single parent, she worked all her life. She took care of everybody," McGlothen said.
Days before, the family gathered at the house to celebrate Thanksgiving. Many had planned to gather again on Sunday for Hegge's birthday.
"I'm still stunned. I can't believe she is gone," McGlothen said.
Gaye Whalen, a nurse and lactation consultant who worked with Hegge at UK and worshiped with her at the Newman Center, described her as a humble, unassuming person.
"She's just a very nurturing person and really gave a lot to her patients and her grandchildren," Whalen said. "It's very shocking to think that somebody that gives so much of their heart and soul ... that something bad could happen."
Chris Brown said he'd known Hegge for more than 15 years. He did some handiwork around the house and occasionally fixed her car.
Brown said he received a phone call Monday morning telling him Hegge was dead.
"At first, I thought it might have been a mistake," he said. "I just can't believe she'd have any trouble with anybody."
Anyone with information is asked to call Lexington police, (859) 258-3700.