NORTH ADAMS - The man accused of killing 84-year-old Ellen DePaoli inside her home last week was once a neighbor who often visited the home, according to court documents.
Monday, David A. Delratez, 41, of Walker Street, pleaded not guilty to murder and larceny of a motor vehicle. He is being held without bail at the Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction.
Delratez was shackled and behind a glass partition during his arraignment in Northern Berkshire District Court. He did not speak during the brief proceeding.
Police were called to the DePaoli home at 409 Walker St. at 8 p.m. last Tuesday after receiving a 911 call reporting her death, according to court documents.
Authorities found DePaoli who had been stabbed numerous times and her face bruised and swollen. Officers didn't find any evidence of forced entry into the home or of a struggle.
The state Chief Medical Examiner's office said DePaoli died from "both a blunt force injury to the head and a sharp force injury to the torso."
A probable cause report indicates that Delratez once lived at 512 Walker St., a short distance from the DePaoli home. He was a frequent visitor and an acquaintance of Ellen DePaoli's son, James. James DePaoli told police that Delratez recently had taken his "four-wheel RV" without permission and had allegedly stolen a car from a mutual acquaintance, according to the report.
After learning from James DePaoli that his mother's 2005 blue Ford Taurus was missing as was the purse in which she kept the keys, police started looking for the car.
On Thursday, Massachusetts Trooper Michael Scott used Delratez's cell phone records to track him down in Bennington, Vt., where authorities arrested him on a probation violation.
Delratez was brought to Massachusetts on Friday and charged with DePaoli's murder.
While in custody in Bennington, Delratez reportedly told police, "I loved that old woman. I hurt that old woman. I could see it in her eyes."
He also identified himself as being a family friend, who had often visited with DePaoli and her son. He said he frequently ate dinner at the house and even stayed overnight on occasion.
In police interviews, however, Delratez denied killing DePaoli. He said said he had entered DePaoli's home after being called in by two men and found DePaoli wounded.
Delratez said he was forced by the men to drive DePaoli's car to Pittsfield and later to Albany and Troy, N.Y. He claimed to be drunk for two to three days after arriving in New York until driving himself to Bennington, where he had been staying with a friend.
Police say Delratez also claimed to know one of the assailants, whom he referred to as drug dealer named "Jim Jim."
The next hearing in the case was set for Oct. 1. The case is likely headed to the superior court level.