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Man, 49, charged in March murder of Town of Tonawanda woman

A 49-year-old man has been charged with the murder of a Town of Tonawanda woman in March, police said Monday.

John M. Avent, no permanent address, was charged in the slaying of Roberta A. Rybinski, whose body was found March 8 inside her Newell Avenue apartment.

Detectives arrested Avent on Saturday with the help of Olean police, the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office and State Police after an extensive investigation that involved interviewing dozens of witnesses, forensic analysis of physical evidence and consultation with the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, town police said.

Family and friends had not heard from Rybinski for about three days before contacting police.

When officers entered the 51-year-old woman’s apartment March 8, they found her sprawled on the living room couch, a portrait of Jesus Christ on the wall above her, a sheet covering her body, The Buffalo News reported at the time. The couch, a witness said, had stab marks in it.

After Rybinski was killed, someone ransacked her apartment, stealing many of her possessions, including a television set and the cables attached to it. Her light blue car also was missing, The News reported.

Avent was arraigned Sunday morning before Town Justice J. Mark Gruber and is currently being held without bail in the Erie County Holding Center, police said.

He’s due back in court for a preliminary hearing Thursday.