Community holds vigil for victim in South Land Park murder

Friends and community members gathered Sunday at a vigil for Susan Roberts, who was remembered as witty, sarcastic and a real “spitfire.” She was a local attorney who was identified as the victim in a South Land Park murder last Tuesday.

About 50 people attended the vigil at the Belle Cooledge Community Library, some wearing T-shirts that showed a high school picture of Roberts and the words “Live, Love and Be Generous.”

“Once you became her friend, it was a friendship for life,” said Joe Flores of the South Land Park Neighborhood Association. “And that’s why we’re all here.”

Roberts, who was 61, was known for being generous, said Lisa Leiplein, a friend and former co-worker. Roberts worked for the state Department of Social Services, overseeing foster homes and critical care facilities, and had recently reactivated her license to practice law.

“She was passionate about those who needed a voice and finding meaning in what can feel like bureaucratic work,” Leiplein said.

Leiplein held a worn and well-loved stuffed animal Roberts had brought to her baby shower more than five years ago. She said the toy was one of her daughter’s favorites.

“You were just drawn to her,” Leiplein said. “Susan lives on in our house.”

Attendees gathered around the library entrance, holding candles as religious leaders from Congregation B’nai Israeland Parkside Community Church led the group in singing “What a Wonderful World.”

“She had a super big heart,” said Susan Lipper, a friend of Roberts. “She was the kind of person you could have a hilarious conversation with or a deep philosophical conversation. She was capable of both.”

Roberts was reported missing after she didn’t show up to a weekend dinner with friends and wasn’t responding to phone calls. Police went to her Nevis Court home to perform a welfare check but were unable to contact her or her husband, police said.

They closed the street and brought in the SWAT team for the safety of neighboring residents. Police also called in crisis negotiators who talked to and detained her husband, Mark Herbert Long, 59. Roberts’ body was found inside the house.

Long was arrested on suspicion of murder and was arraigned Wednesday. He will return to court Jan. 24.

Molly Sullivan: 916-321-1176, @SullivanMollyM