Teenage Girl Charged In Grisly W-B Killing
WILKES-BARRE — A 14-year-old girl was charged Friday with second-degree murder in the brutal stabbing death of a South Wilkes-Barre man.
The girl is charged along with alleged co-conspirator Reynaldo Mercado, 31, with entering the home of Fred Boote Jr. on Sept. 14 with plans to rob him. Boote, 58, ended up dead of multiple stab wounds and blunt-force trauma, prosecutors said.
Although the girl is charged as an adult, The Citizens’ Voice is not identifying her because of her age.
Mercado was previously charged with criminal homicide in the slaying, but prosecutors added additional conspiracy charges against him Friday.
“Fred Boote was brutally and senselessly murdered in his own home,” District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said in a statement. “My office remains committed to finding justice for him and his family.”
According to the charges, the girl’s mother used to date Boote and her family lived at Boote’s home at 14 Donald Court from early this year until Boote asked them to move out at the end of July.
That same month, the girl met Mercado on Public Square, and in early August the family moved in with him at an apartment at 99 Maffett St.
The complaint said Mercado lost his job and couldn’t pay the bills, so the girl’s mother began covering expenses. As a result, Mercado got “increasingly anxious and angry” because he felt he should be providing for the family as the “man of the house,” police said.
He showed his anger by punching holes in the walls, until the evening of Sept. 13 he announced his plan to make money by “jumping somebody” or by burglarizing homes, police said.
Mercado went out but then returned empty-handed, having been unable to get any cash or valuables, the girl reported. That’s when he suggested robbing Boote, according to the complaint.
Although Boote and the girl’s mother had split up, they remained friendly and Boote would occasionally help with errands, police said. Mercado had met Boote once when he helped deliver groceries for the girl’s mother.
Mercado recalled Boote had a nice car. He just didn’t know where Boote lived.
The girl told police she initially refused to tell him, but she eventually agreed to take him there, police said. She claimed she didn’t think Boote would get hurt, so she agreed to help Mercado get inside, according to police.
The ambush began with Boote letting the girl in through the front door, police said. The girl left the door unlocked behind her as she went with Boote to the second floor of the home.
As Boote began trying to contact the girl’s mother to tell her he would bring her home, Mercado came storming up the stairs and attacked Boote in the master bedroom, the girl reported.
During questioning, Mercado told police he picked up a lamp and hit Boote over the head with it. As Mercado continued beating Boote, the girl ran downstairs and grabbed a large knife from the kitchen, police said.
The girl claimed she got the knife because she wanted to stop Mercado from beating Boote, police said. But when she returned to the bedroom, Mercado took the knife, according to police.
Boote was on his knees as Mercado stood over him, raising the knife over his head as he prepared to stab Boote, police said. The girl told investigators she looked away as Mercado began stabbing Boote, but that she “heard Boote gasp with each blow that Mercado struck,” police said.
After Boote was dead, the girl went to the garage and got a can of gasoline Mercado used to douse Boote with, according to police. They lit the gas and left the house with Boote’s cellphone and about $25 in cash, police said.
Police discovered Boote’s body around 4 a.m. on Sept. 14 after finding his dog roaming the streets of South Wilkes-Barre. The dog’s collar led police to Boote’s address, where they found the door ajar and blood on the floor.
The fire had gone out, and Boote’s body was hunched over in a pool of blood in the bedroom, police said.
Around 9:15 a.m. that day, Mercado went to Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre to be treated for multiple cut wounds to his hand, police said.
Later that afternoon, firefighters were dispatched to a fire at 95 Maffett St. — next door to Mercado’s apartment — and arrived to find clothing and shoes burning in a basement common area. Police said the shoes had a pattern on the soles similar to shoe prints left at the scene of the murder.
After police interviewed the girl’s mother that day, they issued an alert for Mercado and the girl, who had disappeared. They were found on Sept. 15 at Mercado’s uncle’s home in West New York, New Jersey.
Mercado is charged with criminal homicide, robbery, burglary, arson, criminal conspiracy, theft, abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and interfering with the custody of a child.
The girl is charged with second-degree murder, an offense that alleges she participated in committing a felony crime that led to Boote’s death. She is also charged with burglary, arson, theft and several counts of criminal conspiracy.
Magisterial District Judge Thomas F. Malloy arraigned the pair Friday and ordered them held without bail at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility.
They declined to comment as police escorted them to court.
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