An elderly woman has died after police say a delivery man from Hialeah badly beat her in her Boca Raton home before dousing her with a liquid chemical.
Jorge Luis Dupre Lachazo, 21, was arrested on second-degree attempted murder, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon on a person over 65, and arson, Boca Raton Police said Tuesday.
According to police, Lachazo and another delivery driver had been contracted through Best Buy to deliver a washer and dryer to the victim on Monday morning. At one point, the driver went outside to make phone calls to the office, while Lachazo was inside speaking with the woman about the new appliances.
U.S. & World
The day's top national and international news.
That's when the driver heard screaming coming from the house and ran inside and found the victim covered in blood on the floor, police said. The driver called 911 while Lachazo got in the delivery truck and drove away.
A responding officer saw the truck leaving the neighborhood and stopped it, taking Lachazo into custody. Lachazo was "very sweaty and was shaking, as if he was nervous," an officer noted in an arrest report.
The officer wrote that the hairs on Lachazo's lower legs were burnt, and the surface of his legs looked like they had ashes on them, the report said.
Lachazo admitted to beating the woman and dousing her with the chemical, and told officers he had used cocaine and marijuana earlier in the day, police said.
"Lachazo made a physical motion with his hands indicating that he doused [the victim] and room with the chemical agent," the report said. "He then made a motion with his hands that the chemical spontaneously combusted. He denied knowing the ignition source that was used to start the fire."
The arrest report said officers found a wooden handled mallet on the woman's washing machine with blood on it. There was also dried blood on the washing machine and a wine bottle found at the scene, the report said.
"He took a mallet of some sort and hit the victim in the head and had some kind of accelerant from the garage and at some point a fire ensued," Boca Raton Police spokesman Mark Economou said.
The 75-year-old woman, who suffered burns and trauma injuries, was hospitalized in extremely critical condition Monday, police said. Officials confirmed she died from her injuries on Tuesday.
She was identified as Evelyn Udell, a longtime employee at Florida Atlantic University libraries. She was a cataloger in the technical services department from 2003 until 2018, university officials said.
"Evelyn will be remembered as a kind, caring and hard-working member of the staff," FAU said in a statement. "The University is devastated to hear about Evelyn's passing. We send our deepest condolences to her family, friends and former colleagues."
Police didn't give a possible motive for the attack.
"We offer our sincere condolences to her family and loved ones," police said in a statement. "We will work with the State Attorney’s Office and the Medical Examiner’s Office as we continue to investigate."
Lachazo was being held without bond Tuesday. Attorney information wasn't available.
Best Buy issued a statement Tuesday saying the Boca Raton store was closed for the day.
"Beyond working with law enforcement in any way we can, we have suspended our relationship with the small, local company that was subcontracted to deliver to the customer’s home," Best Buy CEO Corie Barry said in the statement. "In the hours after we initially learned what happened, we immediately revisited our delivery and installation programs and, in the coming days, will do two things: 1) ensure all our processes were followed and 2) work with our delivery partners to do anything more we can to help ensure that this type of tragedy will not happen again. Additionally, we are hiring an independent security firm to review our existing screening, audit and safety programs and share with us their assessment on how we can improve."