Florida Delivery Man Attacked Elderly Woman With Mallet, Set Her Ablaze, Cops Say
The 75-year-old victim reportedly suffered brain trauma and severe burns before dying at a local hospital.
Authorities claim a Florida delivery worker who installed appliances at the home of an elderly woman attacked her with a wooden mallet and set her on fire. The victim later died as a result, and the man has since been charged with murder, according to police.
The Boca Raton Police Department alleges that, on August 18, Jorge Luis Depre Lachazo, 21, and his co-worker, David Gonzalez, 41, arrived at the home of Evelyn Smith Udell, 75. The men were there, according to police, to install a washer and dryer she purchased from a nearby Best Buy store.
Police claim after the men completed the installation, Gonzalez stepped outside to telephone the office, while Lachazo stayed behind to talk to Udell about using the new appliances.
Shortly after that, police allege, Gonzalez heard screams coming from inside the residence. Gonzalez reportedly ran inside, saw Udell lying on the floor with blood nearby, and dialed 911. While Gonzalez was on the phone, Lachazo allegedly sped off in the delivery truck.
A nearby officer reportedly spotted the truck and stopped Lachazo. The arrest report states Lachazo was "very sweaty and was shaking as if he was nervous," and it appeared hair had been burned off his leg.
Rescue workers who rushed to Udell's home found her "fully engulfed" in flames, according to the police report. Udell was taken to Delray Medical Center, where she died Tuesday after suffering brain trauma and severe burns, according to the arrest report.
Officers on the scene stated that they found an open container of the highly flammable chemical acetone in Udell's kitchen.
Lachazo allegedly confessed to having hit Udell in the head with a wooden mallet. According to the arrest report, "He then made a motion with his hands, indicating that he doused Evelyn Udell and the room with the chemical agent. He then made a motion with his hands that the chemical agent spontaneously combusted. He denied knowing the ignition source that was used to start the fire."
Detectives allege Lachazo told them he had used cocaine and marijuana earlier that day.
According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, Lachazo was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, first-degree arson, and armed burglary with battery. He is reportedly being held without bond. No motive has been given for the crime.
Best Buy CEO Corie Barry reportedly closed the Boca Raton outlet for the day and issued a statement that read, in part:
"We have suspended our relationship with the small, local company that was sub-contracted to deliver to the customer's home … For more than 20 years, millions of Americans have trusted us to come into their homes and, on days like this, I am fully aware of how precious that trust is and how vital it is that we do everything in our power to earn it. Today, we redouble our efforts to do just that."
Udell's family released their own statement, saying, "We wish to thank the Boca [Raton] Police Department for their prompt and professional apprehension of the suspect. And we thank the Delray Medical Center for the excellent care they provided to our mother."