A man suspected in the death of an elderly woman in North Adams, Massachusetts has pleaded not guilty.
David Delratez pleaded not guilty Monday in Northern Berkshire District Court through a court appointed attorney. The 41-year-old was arraigned for murder and larceny of a motor vehicle in connection with the death of 84-year-old Ellen DePaoli in a rare murder case that has sent shockwaves through the Berkshires. North Adams Police found DePaoli’s body in her home on Walker Street in North Adams on Tuesday evening after receiving a 911 call. DePaoli’s body was found with a number of stab wounds along with bruising and swelling of the face. The cause of death has been determined as blunt force trauma to the head and sharp force injury to the torso.
According to a probable cause report, Delratez lived 200 yards from the DePaoli residence in North Adams and had visited on numerous occasions. The report states Delratez had recently taken a four-wheel RV belonging to DePaoli’s son James. On Thursday evening, authorities found a blue 2005 Ford Taurus registered to DePaoli parked on Valentine Street in Bennington, Vermont. Shortly afterward, police tracked Delratez’s location through cell phone coordinates and took him into custody at gunpoint Thursday evening after he was seen walking on Main Street in Bennington. He was arrested on unrelated violation of probation on convictions including assault and battery, assault by means of a dangerous weapon, and threat to commit a crime.
Massachusetts State Police say probable cause exists based on information provided to them from the Bennington Police Department. These include Delratez placing himself at the scene of the crime, being in possession of the victim’s car and being unable to explain having a knife appearing to be consistent with the weapon that caused DePaoli’s wounds. State police also report Delratez said quote, “I loved that old woman, I hurt that old woman,” while in the custody of Bennington Police.
Police found no evidence of forced entry or a struggle at DePaoli’s residence. In an interview after his arrest, Delratez said he visited the DePaoli residence often, had dinner with her in her house and stayed overnight on occasion. He also said DePaoli only locked her door at night.
The report says Delratez made several spontaneous statements when he was first taken into custody, including that he was a drunk and a drug user. During the two-hour interview after his arrest, Delratez appeared to suggest other assailants were in the house and were responsible for DePaoli’s injuries. Delratez then said the men forced him to drive DePaoli’s car to Pittsfield then to Albany and Troy, New York. Delratez said he returned from New York with the other men and he went to Bennington because he was scared. Judge Michael Ripps addressed the court.
“I need to tell you one thing," Ripps said. "Back in the late 1970s, I represented Jim DePaoli in a case. Thereafter, I represented Mr. DePaoli and Mrs. DePaoli briefly. I don’t remember how long it was, but I know it was briefly. That was the last time I spoke with either one of them, in the late 1970s. But you need to know that. I meant to tell you that earlier. I don’t feel like I have a conflict, but your client needs to know and so does the Commonwealth.”
Delratez is being held without bail in Berkshire County House of Correction. A motion of discovery hearing is scheduled for October 1 and a bind over hearing is set for October 25 in Northern Berkshire District Court.