ORLANDO, Fla. - Orange County Sheriff John Mina said a 93-year-old woman was killed hours after she celebrated her birthday with her loved ones.
Investigators charged 54-year-old Javier Rosado Martinez with first-degree murder in the death of Delores Padilla-Marrero. He made his first appearance before a judge on Thursday afternoon.
"Sunday was Delores’s 93rd birthday and unfortunately that day she was murdered by someone she knew, someone she had gone out of her way to help," Sheriff Mina said.
Loved ones told investigators she was a devout Catholic who always tried to help people and enjoyed spending time with her long family.
"She had one son, three daughters, 11 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren," Sheriff Mina said.
Investigators said after celebrating her birthday, Padilla-Marrero's family dropped her off at her apartment at St. Joseph Gardens Court at 8 p.m. on Sunday night.
Sgt. Joe Covelli said the next morning, her family could not get a hold of her.
"Mom was not responding to her phone which was not usual," Sgt. Covelli said.
Deputies said Padilla-Marrero's daughter showed up at her apartment to check on her and found the woman dead, naked in her bed, with a pillow covering her face.
"Cause of death was strangulation, blunt force trauma to torso. Manner of death was homicide," Sgt. Covelli said.
It didn’t take deputies long to come up with a suspect. A neighbor said she had let a big, short Hispanic man through the secured entrance the night before. Deputies said that fit the description of the estranged boyfriend of one of Padilla-Marrero's daughters. They also said crime scene investigators found a charm in the crime scene.
"He always wears that horn, and that’s according to the girlfriend. He always wears it, and we found it wrapped in a shirt next to the victim’s body," Sgt. Covelli said.
When investigators tracked Martinez down, they said he had Padilla-Marrero's house keys. Sgt. Covelli said that while Martinez didn’t confess, he said Martinez did make some admissions.
"He basically said he blacked out during the event. So he didn’t say he did do it, he didn’t say he didn’t do it," Sgt. Covelli said.
The people who live in the building where Padilla-Marrero was killed are shaken by her death.
"I got out, and the daughter told me she passed away, and I said 'Who passed away?’ And she said ‘My mom, I found her dead in the bed,’" neighbor Maria Agosto told FOX 35 News in Spanish.
Agosto said she lived next door Padilla-Marrero.
"This is a tragic and heinous case," said Orange County Sheriff John Mina.
According to the arrest affidavit, Martinez and another of Delores’s daughters had a fight earlier that night over his "behavior," and he started "acting as if he was under the influence of narcotics." Crime scene investigators found a horn charm next to Padilla-Marrero's body.
"He always wears that horn. And that’s according to the girlfriend. He always wears it, and we found it wrapped in a shirt next to the victim’s body."
While hose who live in the building are upset about what happened, they said they are not scared.
"Not really, because that’s family. It’s not easy to get into the house, in the building," said Rufina Vazquez.
They said the building is secure.
"Really, nothing like this has ever happened. If this guy never came to the building, then this never would have happened," said Agosto.
Those who live in the facility said there was a meeting Thursday for residents to discuss what happened.
Martinez is now being held at the Orange County Jail without bond. Sheriff Mina tells FOX 35 News he’s going to tell prosecutors this is a case he feels warrants the death penalty because of the manner of this murder and the age of the victim.