Man Who Came to Install Washer and Dryer Allegedly Beats Woman, 75, and Sets Her On Fire
The suspect allegedly sped away from the crime scene
A Florida man is accused of killing a 75-year-old woman by beating her and setting her on fire Monday after delivering appliances she’d purchased at Best Buy, say authorities.
On Monday morning, Jorge Luis Depre Lachazo, 21, and a co-worker, who work for a contractor hired by Best Buy, installed a washer and dryer for Evelyn Smith Udell at her home in the Colonnade at Glen Oaks, the Boca Raton Police Department says in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
After the installation was completed, Lachazo’s co-worker, David Gonzalez, stepped outside to call the office while Lachazo stayed behind to talk to Udell about the new appliances.
Seconds later, Gonzalez heard screams coming from the house.
He ran back inside and found Udell lying on the floor and bleeding, say police.
As Gonzalez called 911, Lachazo allegedly jumped in the delivery truck and sped away.
He didn’t get far. A responding officer who saw Lachazo speeding away from the scene stopped him, noting that he was “very sweaty and was shaking as if he was nervous,” according to the arrest report obtained by NBC News.
Meanwhile, a fire rescue team that arrived at 9:15 a.m. found Udell “fully engulfed” in flames, police said in an arrest report obtained by NBC News.
Suffering from burns and trauma injuries, she was rushed to Delray Medical Center, where she died on Tuesday from her injuries, say police.
During an interview with authorities, Lachazo allegedly admitted to police that he struck Udell in the head with a wooden mallet and doused her with a liquid chemical, the police report says.
He allegedly told police that the chemical “spontaneously combusted,” the arrest report said. “He denied knowing the ignition source that was used to start the fire.”
Police found an open container of acetone in the kitchen, the police report says.
Police have not said what prompted Lachazo to allegedly attack Udell. He admitted to using cocaine and marijuana earlier in the day, say police in the statement.
Lachazo was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, first-degree arson and armed burglary with battery, the police statement says.
He remains held without bond.
He has not yet entered a plea. It is unclear whether he has retained an attorney who can speak on his behalf.
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As police continue to investigate, family and friends mourn the death of Udell, who would have turned 76 next week.
“It’s just unbelievable, horrifying,” neighbor, Karen Bransdorf told local ABC affiliate WPBF.
“When I found out what happened, I just couldn’t believe it, that a delivery person would do something like this.”
A statement released by Udell’s family thanks the Boca Raton Police Department “for their prompt and professional apprehension of the suspect” and “the Delray Medical Center for the excellent care they provided to our mother.”
Retired since 2018, Udell worked at the Florida Atlantic University library as a cataloger for 15 years, WPBF reports.
“The University is devastated to hear about Evelyn’s passing,” it said in a statement. “Evelyn will be remembered as a kind, caring and hard-working member of the staff.”
Best Buy closed its Boca Raton store for the day out of respect for Udell and her family, said CEO Corie Barry in a statement.
“We have suspended our relationship with the small, local company that was sub-contracted to deliver to the customer’s home,” the statement reads.