BOCA RATON, Fla. – A man accused of killing a Boca Raton woman after delivering a washing machine and dryer to her home has a prior arrest history in South Florida.
Records show that Jorge Lachazo, 21, had been arrested in two theft-related cases last year in Miami-Dade County.
Both cases were closed and appeared to have been dismissed.
Lachazo was arrested Monday on attempted murder and battery charges, but his charges were upgraded Tuesday after the victim, Evelyn Smith Udell, 75, died of her injuries.
Lachazo now faces charges of first-degree murder, first-degree arson and armed burglary with battery.
Police said Lachazo and co-worker David Gonzalez, who work for a company contracted by Best Buy, dropped off a washer and dryer at the woman's home in the Colonnade at Glen Oaks.
While the men were installing the new appliances, Gonzalez went outside to return a work call, leaving Lachazo alone with the woman.
After hearing screams coming from the house, Gonzalez went back inside and noticed blood on the floor of the laundry room. He also found Smith Udell on the floor.
While Gonzalez was outside calling 911, Lachazo got into the delivery truck and drove away, police said.
Local 10 News on Wednesday obtained an audio file of the 911 call in which Gonzalez is heard emotionally requesting help from a dispatcher.
"I need somebody. I need police here," Gonzalez told the dispatcher.
He then tells the dispatcher that he doesn't know what happened, but said, "I saw a lot of, a lot of, a lot of screaming. So I (inaudible) go inside, I saw the lady on the floor."
A police officer responding to the call stopped the truck and noticed that the hairs on Lachazo's legs were burned and had ash on them, police said.
During a search of Smith Udell's home, detectives found burn marks on the washing machine and door frame leading to the laundry room.
"Burn marks and charred debris was observed in various locations on the tile floor within the room," Detective Scott Hanley wrote in the probable cause affidavit. "A strong odor of a chemical was present. A wooden-handled mallet was on top of the washing machine. Blood was observed on the mallet. A glass wine bottle was on the floor in front of the washing machine. Long hair was observed in the dried blood on the lower front portion of the washing machine and wine bottle."
An open can of acetone was found on the kitchen counter, its plastic lid on the floor next to the washing machine, Hanley wrote.
After Lachazo was treated for his injuries at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, he was interviewed by police at the Boca Raton Police Department.
Lachazo admitted to detectives that he used the mallet to hit Smith Udell on her head and then went into the garage to get a chemical that he poured on her, according to the report. He claimed it spontaneously combusted.
"It's just unbelievable -- horrifying," neighbor Karen Bransdorf said. "I came home at 11 o'clock and (there were) police on the street and everything."
Police said Lachazo admitted to using cocaine and marijuana earlier in the day.
Smith Udell was taken to Delray Medical Center, where she later died.
"It makes you feel that you can't trust anyone," neighbor Bobbi Cohen said.
A Florida Atlantic University spokeswoman confirmed in a statement that the victim was a longtime employee of FAU libraries.
"Evelyn worked at FAU from November 2003 until April 2018 as a cataloger in the technical services department," the statement read. "Evelyn will be remembered as a kind, caring and hard-working member of the staff. The university is devastated to hear about Evelyn's passing. We send our deepest condolences to her family, friends and former colleagues."
Best Buy CEO Corie Barry also released a statement, saying the Boca Raton store was closed Tuesday out of respect for the victim and her family.
Barry said the company has suspended its relationship with the business that was subcontracted to deliver the appliances to Smith Udell's home.
The company was identified by the Palm Beach Post as XM Delivery, of Miami, a subcontractor to distribution giant J.B. Hunt.