Neighbors of the 91-year-old Clearwater, Florida woman who was beaten to death in a home invasion said they are glad to see police have arrested a suspect in the case — Dominic Panzino, 36, a Framingham resident who was nabbed by Revere police Wednesday after he fled to Massachusetts and stole a car from a rental center, reported the Boston Globe.
, reported the Clearwater Patch. An autopsy determined she died from blunt force trauma.
Panzino, Schroepfer's next-door neighbor, who was apprehended in Wednesday night after police found him next to a disabled vehicle in Revere, later confessed to killing Schroepfer, according to Clearwater Police.
Clearwater Police Chief Anthony Holloway said. "Panzino confessed to the homicide of the victim" on May 31.
Schroepfor's unresponsive body was found inside her home by her son's caretaker, according to a press release by Clearwater Police.
According to Holloway, responding officers were immediately suspicious because of the position of the body and accounts provided by neighbors, who told police that Schroepfor's wallet and a purse were missing.
Further investigation showed Panzino, 36, attempted to cash a check in Schroepfor's name and also tried to use the victim's credit card.
After learning the van had been stolen from Panzino's employer, Clearwater Police were able to follow a trail of transactions and surmised the Massachusetts native would attempt to flee to his home state.
Panzino ditched the van in East Boston, police said.
Revere police arrested Panzino after he stopped in Revere to change a flat tire on an allegedly stolen vehicle, according to Elizabeth Watts, a public safety information officer for the city of Clearwater.
At about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday night, Revere Police arrested Panzino after he and an unknown accomplice pulled over with flat tires from a car that he allegedly had stolen from Thrifty Car Rental in Revere, according to Suffolk County District Attorney’s spokesman, Jake Wark.
Wark said court documents allege Panzino jumped into a car and drove it over the metal spikes in the car rental location after employees denied him a car to rent.
Revere police said he is suspected of sexually assaulting a woman in Virginia along the way.
Although it is not known how long Panzino has been living at 113 Orangeview Ave. in Clearwater, he has an extensive criminal history in Massachusetts.
Since 1992, Panzino has been arrested for shoplifting, dealing in stolen property, assault on a law enforcement officer, robbery, drug possession, burglary, larceny, grand theft, carrying a concealed weapon and violating probation.
Panzino appeared in Chelsea District Court today, where a judge ordered him held without bail on charges of receiving a stolen motor vehicle and being a fugitive from justice out of Florida. Suffolk County law enforcement are working to extradite him to Florida.
In a 2008 court document, Panzino’s mother, Linda Miranda of Framingham, requested that the Malden court return the money she put up for bail for her son after he failed to appear for a court hearing. She explained that she needed the money to pay her bills, and to care for Panzino’s daughter, who was then 10 years old, reported the Boston Globe.