UPDATED: Suspect in North Adams homicide caught in Bennington, charged with murder
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- David A. Delratez, a North Adams, Mass., resident with a criminal history, 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, 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 at Northern Berkshire District Court on Monday.
DePaoli, a resident of 409 Walker St., North Adams, was found dead in her home by police on Tuesday night. Delratez was arrested in Bennington, Vt., on Thursday, and arraigned as a fugitive from justice on a warrant issued through Northern Berkshire District Court.
"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. "It was through the coordinated efforts of multiple police agencies that we were able to make this arrest."
Capeless brought charges against Delratez on Friday after he voluntarily returned to Massachusetts, according to the statement.
"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, including North Adams Police, State Police, Pittsfield Police, the Berkshire County Sheriff's Department, and the Berkshire County Law Enforcement Task Force.
"These people worked literally 72 hours without stopping," Alcombright said.
He added that the murder appeared to be a "very random" incident.
At a hearing in Bennington Superior Court on Friday afternoon, Delratez waived his right to an extradition hearing. He was charged as a fugitive from justice and is 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 the Bennington Police Department on Thursday that Delratez was possibly on Valentine Street in Bennington, driving a 2005 blue Ford Taurus. The vehicle's make, model, and license plate number matched the one police said is registered to DePaoli.
Police said they used the global positioning feature on Delratez's cell phone to track him to Bennington, where they believed he had friends.
The Taurus was located Thursday afternoon on Valentine Street, where police kept it under observation. While questioning residents of 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.
DePaoli, 84, was found dead inside her 409 Walker St., North Adams, home by police on Tuesday night. Preliminary autopsy results confirmed that she was the victim of a homicide, according to information release by the Berkshire District Attorney's office. DePaoli was a cafeteria supervisor at Drury High School for many years.
Details of the autopsy, which was performed by Associate Medical Examiner Anna McDonald from the Chief Medical Examiner's Office in Boston on Thursday, are being withheld pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigation.
At the time of his arrest in Vermont, Delratez was wanted on a probation violation in Massachusetts. He 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, Massachusetts 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.
Banner Staff Writer Keith Whitcomb Jr., North Adams Transcript reporters Adam Stark and Jennifer Huberdeau, and Berkshire Eagle reporter Andrew Amelinckx contributed to this story.
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