A Pennsylvania teen is facing a second-degree murder charge for her role in the fatal stabbing of her mother’s former boyfriend – all to steal $25 and a phone, the Citizens’ Voice reports.
The girl, whom the newspaper did not name, is accused of conspiring with 31-year-old Reynaldo Mercado in the killing of 58-year-old Fred Boote Jr. of South Wilkes-Barre. The girl told police all she intended to do was rob Boote but that the encounter got out of control.
Boote died from numerous stab wounds and blunt-force trauma stemming from the September incident.
“Fred Boote was brutally and senselessly murdered in his own home,” District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said. “My office remains committed to finding justice for him and his family.”
The girl’s mother once dated Boote and she and the girl lived at his home until he asked them to move out in July. The girl later met Mercado and she and her mother moved in with him in August.
Update: Fred J. Boote Jr., 58, was found slumped over with a stab wound to his back. There was a gas can in the bedroom, and a blanket draped over the body appeared to have been partially burned, police said. https://t.co/kKgZlFdCFU
— The Citizens' Voice (@CitizensVoice) September 14, 2018
Mercado had become “increasingly anxious and angry” because he couldn’t afford to cover the household’s expenses as the “man of the house,” court records state. He formulated a plan to steal money or burglarize, but those efforts were not successful.
Mercado then suggested robbing Boote, who had remained friends with the girl’s mother and even helped deliver groceries to them while they were living with Mercado. The girl said she agreed to help Mercado get inside Boote’s home because she didn’t think Boote would get hurt.
Once Boote let the girl inside, she left the door behind her unlocked. Mercado later barged into the residence and attacked Boote, hitting him with a lamp. The girl then ran into the kitchen and grabbed a large knife, which she claimed was part of an effort to stop Mercado from hurting Boote. But Mercado took the knife from her and began stabbing Boote.
The girl told police she could hear Boote “gasp with each blow that Mercado struck.” She later found gasoline, which Mercado poured over Boote and used to ignite him on fire.
The pair left with Boote’s phone and $25 cash. Authorities found Boote’s body after coming across his dog, which was wandering the streets.
Police soon interviewed the girl’s mother and then located the girl and Mercardo in New Jersey.
Mercado is facing charges of homicide, robbery, burglary, criminal conspiracy, arson, theft, tampering with evidence, abuse of a corpse and interfering with the custody of a child.
In addition to the second-degree murder charge, the girl also faces charges of burglary, theft, arson and multiple counts of criminal conspiracy. Prosecutors are treating her as an adult.
Both Mercado and the girl are being held in jail without bail.
[Feature Photo:Fred Boote Jr./Handout]