NANTICOKE — Greater Nanticoke Area senior Arica Grabowski did not know 97-year-old Gertrude Price.
Price, who lived alone in her tiny house on East Grand Street, was beaten to death in a home invasion Thanksgiving night, state police at Wyoming said.
Her homicide stunned the Nanticoke community prompting Kevin Grevera, owner of the Hunting Depot and a former Nanticoke police officer, to initiate a reward fund starting with $1,000.
The fund has passed $10,000 thanks to the efforts of Grabowski and her fellow classmates Jessica Saraka and Kara Voyton.
For their senior class project Grabowski, Saraka and Voyton held a Zumbathon at the Nanticoke Fitness Center and Training on Middle Road on Jan. 11. The event raised nearly $1,100 the three seniors donated to the Gertrude Price Reward Fund.
“I’ve been wanting to do a Zumbathon for a while now and when this happened in Nanticoke, we joined together and came up with ideas and held the Zumbathon,” Grabowski said.
Attendees paid $10 to participate in the Zumbathon, and the seniors sold T-shirts for $10. There was also a silent auction held at the fitness center for the reward fund.
“Zumbathon is a group of people that dance to music,” Grabowski said. “You can burn up to 2,000 calories a day. It’s that intense.”
Grabowski said she couldn’t put a number on those to participated in the event, noting “it was packed.”
“I was surprised by the number of those who came,” she said.
Travis C. Buchanan, president of the Nanticoke Crime Watch, said the reward fund is being managed by a committee with the Fraternal Order of Eagles, of 48 E. Ridge St., Nanticoke.
“From the beginning when Kevin (Grevera) set up the reward, it is for the arrest and conviction in Gertrude Price’s murder,” Buchanan said. “The reward has grown. We have not stopped talking about it or asking about it. I’m hoping someone will come forward, not for the money, but for the principle of it.”
Donations can be made at any PNC Bank in care of Gertrude Price Reward Fund.
Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers is offering an unrelated reward of up to $2,500 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for Price’s death.
State police said the assailant entered Price’s residence by forcing open a basement window. Price’s home had been ransacked.
Price had last spoken with family at about 10:20 p.m. on Nov. 28.
State police said lights were turned on inside Price’s house at about 11 p.m., which neighbors said was unusual for that time of night.
An autopsy showed Price died from blunt force trauma, according to the Luzerne County Coroner’s Office.
No charges have been filed.