Police: Bloody footprints link suspect to retired Villanova professor’s fatal stabbing

 Carol Ambruster, 69, was stabbed multiple times in her Wayne Avenue apartment in December. (Photo courtesy of NBC10)

Carol Ambruster, 69, was stabbed multiple times in her Wayne Avenue apartment in December. (Photo courtesy of NBC10)

A Germantown man accused of stabbing a retired Villanova University professor to death inside her apartment in early December will stand trial on homicide charges.

Jose Diaz, of West Hansberry Street, allegedly robbed and murdered Carol Armbruster during a brutal and bloody struggle on the 5500 block of Wayne Avenue last December.

Preliminary hearing testimony

During Tuesday’s preliminary hearing, Joseph Gilmore, a paramedic with the Philadelphia Fire Department, said he arrived at Ambruster’s second-floor apartment just after 9 p.m. and found dried-blood spots just inside the doorway.

The trail — including drag marks — led to the kitchen, where Ambruster lay unresponsive in a pool of blood, a butcher knife still lodged in her neck. A dumped-out black purse lay at her feet.

“She was cold to the touch,” said Gilmore.

Two days after the Dec. 9 discovery, Philadelphia Police Officer John Taggart, a crime scene investigator, said he scanned the apartment and discovered a number of bloody “Timberland-like” footprints that, according to his measurements, corresponded a men’s size eight.

On Dec. 13, police searched Diaz’s row home and took three pairs of boots and some clothing with “red spots.”

A pair of black boots was later sent to a lab after investigators found that the size and tread had strong ties to a print found inside Ambruster’s apartment, said Taggart.

There also appeared to be blood on the sole and right side on of the right boot, he said.

Assistant District Attorney Mark Levenberg, who is prosecuting the case, said a DNA report later revealed that Ambruster’s blood was on the black boots.

Attorneys react

Following Tuesday’s hearing, Levenberg said there’s no question that Diaz committed the crime.

“His boots had the victim’s blood on them, they were found in his house, the footprint matches,” said Levenberg. “It was a horrific and brutal beating and robbery, and he’ll be held accountable for it.”

Benjamin Cooper, Diaz’ attorney, said his client is innocent.

“Our reports are that he is not this type of person,” said Cooper.

Diaz worked as a handyman at the building and knew Ambruster.

Levenberg said there didn’t appear to be any signs of a forced entry.

Diaz will be arraigned April 15. He is charged with murder, robbery, burglary and related offenses.

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