NORTH ADAMS - City resident David Delratez has been charged with murder in the homicide of 84-year-old Ellen DePaoli.
According to a Friday evening press release from the Berkshire District Attorney's Office, Delratez, 41, of River Street, was charged Friday with one count of murder and one count of larceny of a motor vehicle. Delratez is being held at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction without bail, according to the release. He will be arraigned in Northern Berkshire District Court on Monday.
DePaoli, a resident of 409 Walker St. and a long-time cafeteria supervisor at Drury High School, was found dead in her home by police Tuesday night. Police were responding to a 911 call at 8 that night, during which the caller reported the death. An extensive multi-agency investigation ensued at the home Wednesday. Delratez's address in 2012 is listed in court documents as the Clarksburg end of Walker Street, which runs from North Adams into neighboring Clarksburg.
Delratez was arrested in Bennington, Vt., Thursday, and arraigned Friday as a fugitive from justice on a warrant issued through Northern Berkshire District Court. Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless brought charges against Delratez on Friday after he waived his right to an extradition hearing in Vermont Superior Court and voluntarily came back to Massachusetts, according to the press release. At the time of his arrest in Vermont, he was wanted on a probation violation for a prior assault conviction in Massachusetts.
According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Sgt. David Dutcher, North Adams Police informed them Thursday that Delratez may be on Valentine Street in Bennington, and driving a 2005 blue Ford Taurus. The vehicle's make, model and license plate number match the one police said is registered to DePaoli.
North Adams Police said Delratez is a "person of interest" in an investigation and that they used the global positioning feature on Delratez's cell phone to track him to Bennington. It was believed he has friends in the Bennington area.
The Taurus was located Thursday afternoon on Valentine Street, where police watched it. While questioning people in the area, police received word Delratez was running down Safford Street and went behind a residence. He was located and arrested by police from Bennington and North Adams.
"Great appreciation is due to the many investigators who worked tirelessly in this case, some several days with little or no sleep," Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless said in a statement Friday. "It was through the coordinated efforts of multiple police agencies that we were able to make this arrest."
Preliminary autopsy results released by the district attorney's office Thursday confirmed that DePaoli was the victim of a homicide. Specific details of the autopsy, performed by Associate Medical Examiner Dr. Anna McDonald from the Chief Medical Examiner's office in Boston on Thursday, are being withheld pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigation.
"My condolences to the family of Ellen DePaoli as they struggle," said North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright on Friday evening. Alcombright expressed gratitude for the many agencies that worked on the case.
"These people worked literally 72 hours without stopping," Alcombright said.
North Adams residents were not at risk during the investigation, Alcombright said, and that the murder appeared to be a "very random" incident. This is the first homicide-related death to take place in the city since 2008.
"Anytime one of our citizens, particularly one of our seniors, is killed, there is cause for concern along with grief," Capeless said in a Thursday press release. "However, based upon the information that investigators have developed, we consider this to be an isolated incident and North Adams residents should not be unduly alarmed."
Delratez is currently on probation until 2015 out of Northern Berkshire District Court after pleading guilty in May 2012 to assault and battery, assault with a dangerous weapon and threatening to commit a crime. He was also sentenced to 18 months in the Berkshire County House of Correction for the same case.
He has a prior criminal history that includes a violent attack on a man using a dumbbell that left the victim with a scarred face, broken jaw and facial bones and blurred vision.
In January 2004, after a night of heavy drinking Delratez allegedly beat a then 36-year-old man with a dumbbell at the man's North Adams apartment. They had gone to the residence after drinking at a local bar.
Two years later, Delratez pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court to mayhem, assault and battery to intimidate and two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and was sentenced to at least four years and no more than five years in state prison followed by two years of probation.
In 2001, he served 60 days in jail on motor vehicle charges after failing to stop for police. Two years earlier he was given probation on a misdemeanor assault and battery charge.
The investigation is being conducted by the North Adams Police Department, state Police Detectives assigned to the district attorney's office, officers from the Pittsfield Police Department, deputies from the Berkshire County Sheriff's Department and members of the Berkshire County Law Enforcement Task Force.
Transcript reporters Jennifer Huberdeau and Adam Shanks contributed to this report from North Adams, Bennington Banner reporter Keith Whitcomb Jr. contributed from Bennington, and The Berkshire Eagle reporter Andrew Amelinckx contributed from Pittsfield.