Police: Shoes May Be Tied To Grisly Murder
WILKES-BARRE — Shoes that were intentionally set afire at a South Wilkes-Barre apartment building on Friday afternoon had a similar pattern to shoe prints left at the scene of the grisly murder of Fred J. Boote Jr., according to a search warrant application filed in court.
Police found Boote, 58, stabbed to death in his house at 14 Donald Court around 4 a.m. Friday after his dog was observed running loose along Carey Avenue. Boote had been stabbed in the back, and the scene suggested signs of a struggle, with indications the killer tried to set fire to the home before fleeing, according to police.
Hours after police discovered the bloody crime scene, Wilkes-Barre firefighters responded to a blaze at 95 Maffett St. around 1 p.m. Friday. They arrived to find tar paper covering clothing and a pair of shoes that were burning in the basement, which is a common area of the apartment building, a search warrant application says.
The fire had been deliberately set, and an examination of the shoes revealed they had a “similar” pattern to the footprints left at the murder scene, detectives wrote in the application.
The warrant, signed by Magisterial District Judge Donald L. Whittaker, allowed police to seize the clothing and shoes, as well as trace evidence and other items that might be connected to Boote’s murder.
The location of the fire was directly next door to the home of 31-year-old Reynaldo Mercado Jr., who police named as a suspect in the case of a missing girl on Friday night. The girl, Alex Reyes, 14, was reported missing by her mother, Carmen Cardy, and police said she was possibly endangered while in Mercado’s company.
On Saturday, police found the girl and Mercado at a location in West New York, New Jersey, according to court documents.
Police charged Mercado with a felony count of interfering with the custody of a minor. Records showed he was being held at the Hudson County Correctional Center.
Police have not said whether they think Mercado is connected to Boote’s death. Asked for comment Monday, Wilkes-Barre police Cmdr. Joe Coffay, the acting police chief, said the investigation is ongoing.
“We have not officially identified any suspects as of this date,” Coffay said. “The investigation is ongoing. If and when we can identify a suspect we will, but as of now the investigation is ongoing.”
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