Will dispute may have led to 85-year-old's death

May 14, 2010 (HIGHLAND PARK)

Just hours after Thelma DePalma lost her long-time companion, she lost her life.

Neighbors say DePalma loved and cared for her friend for years. His health failed and he died earlier this week.

After his death, police say his relatives came to DePalma's home along Green Bay Road in Highland Park demanding to see a copy of his will. An argument ensued, and investigators say the man's niece shoved DePalma to the ground. She managed to call police, but her condition deteriorated she died a few hours later.

"She was great - she was the best landlord and she was like a mother to me," said someone. "I always used to go over there, check on her, see how she was doing, and she always took care of us and just was a really sweet woman."

Highland Park police have interviewed the relatives who they believe were involved in this argument. They are conferring with prosecutors to determine specifically what kind of charges would be appropriate.

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