Suspect Admits Killing South W-B Man
The suspect in the grisly murder of a South Wilkes-Barre man last week admitted to repeatedly stabbing the victim and trying to burn his body, according to charges filed Friday night.
Police say Reynaldo Mercado, 31, confessed during questioning that he killed Fred Boote Jr. during a planned robbery of his 14 Donald Court home.
He got away with the victim’s cellphone and $25, police said.
Mercado, who was taken into custody last Saturday on a different set of charges, was booked on a homicide charge Friday night and sent to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility without bail.
Arrest papers say the link between Mercado and Boote was a person only identified in arrest papers as “Individual Number One,” a former romantic partner of Boote’s who previously lived at his house with her children.
Boote had kicked them out at some point, police said.
At the time of the murder, that woman and her children were living with Mercado at his home at 99 Maffett St. in Wilkes-Barre.
The criminal complaint says the woman has a 14-year-old daughter. Just hours after the homicide, police say Mercado and the woman walked the girl to school.
Later that day, Mercado was accused of leaving town with the girl without the mother’s permission.
Meanwhile, police say they obtained surveillance footage that showed Mercado and the girl walking toward Boote’s home around 1:02 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 14. Other video shows “two individuals” entering the home.
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.
During his confession, Mercado admitted to going to Boote’s house with another person to burglarize the house or rob Boote, police said.
The plan was for the other person — identified only as “Individual Number Three” — to gain entry and leave the door ajar to allow Mercado to enter, he allegedly told police.
After the person entered, the person lured Boote upstairs, arrest papers say.
Mercado told police he then encountered the two in a second-floor bedroom and smashed a lamp over Boote’s head, a blow that knocked him out, police said. The other person retrieved a knife from the kitchen and gave it to Mercado. Mercado then repeatedly stabbed Boote.
Police say Mercado then admitted he found a container of gasoline in Boote’s garage and poured gasoline all over the victim’s body. He then lit the gas and fled.
Investigators say Mercado also admitted to burning the clothing he was wearing in the common area basement of the home next to his on Maffett Street.
Almost immediately, police suspected a link between the arson on Maffett Street and the murder scene.
Then Mercado and the 14-year-old girl went missing.
Mercado and the girl were located on Saturday, Sept. 15 in West New York, New Jersey.
There, police said he confessed to a cousin that he killed a man and needed to flee to the Dominican Republic.
Mercado has been in custody since his arrest in New Jersey on charges of interfering in the custody of a minor.
He was extradited on Friday to face charges in Pennsylvania.
Mercado is charged with homicide, robbery, arson, abuse of corpse and tampering with evidence.
Following arraignment by Magisterial District Judge Donald Whittaker, Mercado was jailed in the Luzerne County Correctional Facility without bail.
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