Second Thought:Murder Verdict in Tenant’s Slaying of Chelsea Woman,88

A jury this morning convicted a Chelsea man of the 2013 murder of 88-year-old Hilda Devincenzo after the first jury was not able to get a conviction.

A Suffolk Superior Court jury found Felix Melendez, 38, guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of his landlady, Devincenzo.  During his sentencing Friday morning, Oct. 7, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Kenneth Salinger is expected to impose the mandatory term for first-degree murder of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

A jury at Melendez’s first trial last year convicted him of receiving stolen property over $250 for possessing Devincenzo’s stolen belongings but deadlocked on the charge of murder; a second trial also ended in a mistrial earlier this year after jurors were likewise unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

“We never lost hope that we would one day find justice for Ms. Devincenzo,” Conley said. “Chelsea Police detectives, State Police investigators, Suffolk prosecutors, and victim advocates worked tirelessly to speak on her behalf, and we hope her loved ones take some satisfaction with this result.”

Assistant District Attorney Tara Burdman of the DA’s Homicide Unit presented evidence and testimony to prove that Devincenzo lived alone on the second-floor of the three-family home she owned on Washington Street in Chelsea, where Melendez began renting the third-floor apartment in June 2013.  On July 3, Melendez told a first-floor tenant that he was performing electrical work for the victim and that she was driving him “crazy” by making multiple repair requests.

Later that same afternoon, the neighbor heard running, a scream that he recognized as Devincenzo’s voice, and then a bang coming from the victim’s apartment.

Four days later, on July 7, Chelsea firefighters were summoned to the building for a report of the smell of smoke inside.  While there, they were asked to perform a well-being check on Devincenzo and found her dead inside her apartment.  An autopsy performed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner found that she had had died of compression to the neck and torso.

An investigation revealed that several of the victim’s belongings were missing from her bedroom, and the wedding and engagement rings she always wore were missing from her body.  The wedding band was recovered at an Everett jewelry store where, the evidence proved, Melendez had sold it.  Devincenzo’s engagement ring was located in Melendez’ apartment by officers executing a search warrant, and his fingerprint was located on a plastic bag inside the victim’s bedroom.

Sentencing is scheduled to take place Friday morning in courtroom 817.

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