A musician and teacher died Wednesday of injuries that she sustained in an attack last weekend at her east-side home, police said.

Karla Ember, 54, died five days after she was reportedly stabbed by her former roommate at her home in the 10100 block of East Essex Village Drive late Friday, said Officer Linda Galindo, a Tucson Police Department spokeswoman.

Richard J. Wojcik, 54, was arrested early Saturday. He is facing charges of suspicion of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and aggravated assault causing serious physical injury.

Police expect his charges to be updated to first-degree murder.

A second resident, who tried to intervene in the attack, sustained minor injuries.

Ember had called police Friday evening to report seeing Wojcik nearby. Officers served him with an order of protection, prohibiting contact with the victim, and escorted him away. However, Wojcik returned an hour later and forced his way into the house, police said.

Wojcik was released from state prison in March after serving a sentence for aggravated domestic violence.

Ember, who played the piano and sang, was a cantorial soloist at the Congregation Chaverim synagogue and a music teacher at Tucson Country Day School, said close friend Janece Cohen, a cantor at Congregation Or Chadash. A cantor is a music minister at a synagogue.

Cohen described her friend as “kind, loving and generous” and one of the most talented musicians she had ever known.

“She was always concerned with everyone else’s feelings,” Cohen said.

Cohen declined to discuss the case or Ember’s relationship with the suspect.

Cohen, 53, had known Ember since high school, when they both sang on the choir at Sahuaro High School, she said.

They both followed the same career path, majoring in music at the University of Arizona and co-directing the Tucson Jewish Youth Choir.

They also partnered with each other to sing at various events in the Jewish community, Cohen said.

Ember most likely made her biggest impression on the numerous young people who sang in choirs she directed, Cohen said. “She was wonderful and irreplaceable. I will never have another friend like her.”


Contact reporter Jamar Younger at jyounger@azstarnet.com or call 573-4115.


Fundraiser Sunday

Members of Tucson’s Jewish community are hosting a fundraising music benefit in memory of homicide victim Karla Ember on Sunday night.

The Concert of Healing and Hope is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Tucson’s Jewish Community Center, at East River Road and North Dodge Boulevard. There is a suggested donation of $36 at the door. The public is invited to attend.

Among entertainers scheduled to be at the event: the Tucson Jewish Youth Choir, the Jewish Community Choir, Shirim, Congregation Or Chadash Choir, On Broadway and Klezmerkaba.

Close friend Janece E. Cohen said the money will go toward Ember’s funeral expenses and to help Ember’s teenage daughter.

Ember, a longtime local musician, was the cantorial soloist at the Reform Jewish Congregation Chaverim and a music teacher at Tucson Country Day School.