Dozens of residents packed an East Mt. Airy church Monday night with a simple, but important goal in mind: become a tighter knit community.

Though this slice of Northwest Philadelphia has long been a bastion of grassroots connectivity, the brutal murder of a beloved neighbor last month has sparked a desire to bolster that reputation in the name of safety.

"We're not inventing something new," said Mara Natkins, who helped to run the meeting, also attended by police and elected officials. "We want to go from strength to even greater strength."

On June 29, police found Regina Brunner Holmes inside her rancher on the 300 block of Roumfort Road. The 85-year-old's throat had been slashed. She had also been beaten and stabbed multiple times during the home invasion, according to police.

Leroy Wilson, who allegedly killed Holmes, is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday for his preliminary hearing.

As the case gets underway, neighbors plan to create a series of small contact lists with hopes of improving the "eyes and ears" awareness on each block.

Neighbors also want to create a larger list-serve for the entire swath, which runs roughly from Germantown Avenue to Stenton Avenue and from Cresheim Creek to Mt. Airy Avenue.

Organizers say other efforts around neighborhood safety will take shape over the next year.

"This is not a one and done meeting," said Natkins.