EDITOR'S NOTE: We are concealing the identities of the neighbors interviewed for this story because they have expressed concern about becoming targets of crime. We are calling them Martha, Evelyn and Nancy.

A loaf of bread. A Rite Aid bag with medicine. A birthday card. A shoe.

Julia Kay's neighbor Martha was troubled when she found the items strewn in the entryway of Kay's South Philadelphia home.

"Something's not right," the 77-year-old woman recalled thinking.

Martha and Evelyn, another friend, entered the house on Iseminger Street near Snyder Avenue because they were concerned for their 82-year-old friend, who they hadn't seen return from morning errands on Feb. 2.

Evelyn, 80, approached the kitchen and saw a circular bloodstain that looked "just like a rainbow," she said. Then, from below, she heard: "Help me! Help me! 911!"

Moments later, Julia Kay was found in the cellar lying in a pool of blood, her head and body punched to a "pinkish blue," Evelyn said. Her attacker is unknown, police said.

Kay died at 7:27 p.m. Tuesday, 18 days after the attack, at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, said Sgt. Anthony McFadden, with the Homicide Unit. Before she died, Kay told another neighbor, Nancy, 56, "This guy is a coward for what he did to me."

Kay died from blunt-force trauma to the head, face and chest, said McFadden.

Her injuries included a broken eye socket, a broken breastbone, a broken cheekbone, a broken nose, a fractured skull and a few broken ribs, Nancy said. One side of her head had 17 stitches, Evelyn said.

Kay was recovering from her injuries, but fell victim to an infection, said her son Bill Kay.

"It was senseless," he said. "There was no reason for her to have this extended beating. I want him caught."

Feb. 2 started out like any other day for Kay, who has lived independently since her husband died in 1993. She walked, with the aid of a cane, to the Beneficial Savings Bank at Broad and Snyder to cash her Social Security check.

From there, she walked to a nearby Rite Aid.

The attacker was videotaped at the Rite Aid following Kay while she shopped, police said. In the store, Martha said, he offered Kay a ride home. Kay politely declined.

She was being stalked, police said.

The suspect wore a black knit cap, a black jacket with white patches, and black pants and boots, police said.

On her way home, Kay stopped to talk with a plumber on her block, Nancy said. The plumber, she said, did not notice anyone following her.

When Kay opened her door, the man appeared from behind. Kay initially tried to push him out of the entryway, Nancy said. He punched her in the chest and continued to pummel her in the area near the front door.

He dragged her to the cellar door, then the coldhearted assailant pulled her down the steps, the back of her head hitting each one, Nancy said.

The thug inspected her wallet, which had an ID card and some spare change, police said. But the threat didn't end there.

He told her "if she told anybody, he would come back and finish the job," Nancy said.

When he left the home, locking the front door, a neighbor noticed and alerted Martha and Evelyn, who were already worried.

After Evelyn heard Kay's plea for help, she called 911. Martha, meanwhile, tried to go downstairs, but stopped after two steps.

"I see the blood, I thought she was shot," Martha said. Kay's friends covered her in a blanket and cushioned her bloodied head with two towels.

Neighbors in the area are "freaked out" by the violent act, Nancy said.

Kay's friends want the suspect caught.

"He is wicked," Evelyn said. *

Anyone with information concerning this crime is asked to call the Homicide Unit at 215-686-3334/3335.