Dorothy Dumyahn, 89, was killed in southwest suburban Crest Hill. She and her family had been planning a Thanksgiving gathering for Thursday.
Dumyahn's daughter, Cheryl Parker, and her granddaughter, Nicole Sapit, spoke exclusively with ABC7, sharing their sadness and disbelief.
Parker left her mother's home Saturday evening after setting up Christmas decorations. The next morning she learned her mother was dead, apparently murdered before the killer set her house on fire to try to eliminate evidence.
"She is 89. Who would want to harm an 89-year-old woman? I have no idea whatsoever why this would happen to her," said Parker.
An off-duty firefighter noticed the fire early Sunday morning and went in to pull Dumyahn out of the house, possibly preserving her body well enough for investigators obtain forensic evidence.
Her family says despite her advanced years, Dumyahn was active and independent. She was the one who took care of everyone else, they say. A devout Catholic, she was a homemaker who doted on her family.
Police have released few details about their investigation.
"No one ever deserves to die this way. But for a defenseless, perfectly innocent old lady, it's unimaginable," said Sapit.
"I hope the person or persons, he or she, who did this will serve a lifetime of punishment, because it was horrible," said Parker.
Dumyahn is survived by a large family including two children, five grandchildren and five great grandchildren.