wplg logo

Police release 911 call after Boca Raton woman beaten, set on fire

Delivery driver begs 911 dispatcher for help after partner drives away in truck

BOCA RATON, Fla. – Evelyn Smith Udell purchased a washer and dryer from Best Buy in Boca Raton. The electronics retailer hired J.B. Hunt transport services to deliver it, and the Arkansas-based company entrusted XM Delivery of Miami with the job.

David Gonzalez drove the subcontractor's truck to the Boca Raton home of the 75-year-old retired librarian, who welcomed him and his 21-year-old partner, Jorge Lachazo, inside her home. Gonzalez told detectives he walked outside to make a phone call.

Evelyn Smith Udell, 75, was fatally beaten and burned by a man who was hired to deliver and install a washer and dryer she bought from Best Buy.

Gonzalez ran back inside when he heard screaming, but it was too late, police said. There was blood and fire. He ran back outside to call 911 from the home inside the Colonnades at Glen Oaks community, west of St. Andrews Boulevard and south of Yamato Road. 

"I need somebody," Gonzalez, 48, said in a recording of the 911 call released Wednesday by the Boca Raton Police Department. "I need the police here."

Jorge Lachazo is accused of beating a Boca Raton woman with a mallet and dousing her with a liquid chemical, severely burning her.

Gonzalez was crying hysterically. He begged the dispatcher to send help. The dispatcher decided to summon a translator. Lachazo, who was born in Cuba and lived in Hialeah, walked out of the house. There was an insult in Spanish.

"I don't know what to do! What do I do? He is getting away," Gonzalez said frantically. "He got into the delivery truck and he is trying to drive away."

Lachazo didn't get far. He didn't know how to drive a stick shift, so he was having trouble starting the delivery truck, Gonzalez said.

When police arrived, they found Smith Udell in her laundry room. Her clothes were on fire. 

Police caught up to Lachazo about three miles away on Glades Road. He, too, had suffered burns and was treated at Boca Raton Regional Hospital. He appeared in Palm Beach County court Tuesday. 

Lachazo is facing charges of murder, aggravated battery on a person 65 or older and arson causing great bodily harm. 

Detectives said Lachazo told them he had struck her in the head with a wooden mallet and doused her with acetone that he found in the garage. Detectives believe he set her clothes on fire. 

Smith Udell suffered a head injury and third-degree burns. She was pronounced dead at Delray Medical Center.

Lachazo attacked her at the home where she had lived with her husband, Joel Udell, since 2002. The Palm Beach Post reported the Pennsylvania natives moved there to be close to their sons, Harran and Maury, and their six grandchildren.

The family was supposed to celebrate her 76th birthday Aug. 28. Now they are preparing for a funeral Thursday. The family is asking  that memorial contributions in her honor be made to Hadassah Florida Atlantic, 1325 South Congress Ave., in Boynton Beach, Fla., 33426.

Local 10 News did not receive responses to requests for comment from Best Buy, J.B. Hunt and XM Delivery of Miami.

About the Authors:

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.