A one-time family member of a South Florida elderly couple offered to paint their condo for free, then returned days later to bind them with painter's tape and brutally stab them to death, according to a recently released arrest report obtained by Local 10.
The bodies of Barbara Russo, 78, and her husband, Phillip Russo, 88, were found Monday night by their daughter. Gold jewelry and money were also missing from the apartment, according to the police report.
Authorities say the daughter had dinner with them the night before. During dinner, they reportedly told her their former nephew-in-law, Rosario Melici, 60, of Lake Worth, stopped by to offer to paint their Deerfield Beach condo for free.
When police questioned Melici at his home, detectives noticed swords and axes lining the walls as well as blue painter's tape in the kitchen.
They were eventually able to connect his DNA to samples found on the bodies, according to the arrest report, and his cell phone records showed service at a tower near the couple's condo during the murder time.
Police say Melici, as well as his tenant Michael Marotta, 38, finally confessed. They've been charged with first degree murder and are being held without bond.
From the beginning, both officials and members of the community believed that the gruesome incident was not just a random murder and robbery.
"He wore a lot of gold, chains and rings, even to the beach," one neighbor told the Sun Sentinel about the male victim. "Out of 324 units, they picked his?"
“They were wonderful people,” said Rita Masi, a friend and neighbor of the couple told The Palm Beach Post. “It shouldn’t happen to anyone, but, of course, not seniors like they are. They’ve lived a wonderful life and to succumb to a horrible end like this is terrible. “