The appliance chain that sold the woman a washer and dryer said it closed its Boca Raton-area store ’out of respect’ for the victim and also indefinitely suspended its ties to the delivery firm.
A 75-year-old Boca Raton woman died Tuesday afternoon after an appliance delivery man admitted to beating her Monday with a wooden mallet and dousing her with a chemical which then caught fire, burning most of her body, city police said.
A Boca Raton police report identified the woman as Evelyn Smith Udell. Her husband did not return a call placed Tuesday to his business.
Authorities booked Jorge Dupre Lachazo, 21, of Hialeah at the Palm Beach County Jail early Tuesday. In court a few hours later, a judge ordered that he be held without bail.
Dupre Lachazo is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree arson and armed burglary with battery. Authorities raised those charges from attempted second-degree murder after Udell died.
The woman was taken to the intensive care unit at Delray Medical Center with skull and face fractures, a brain bleed and second- and third-degree burns on more than half of her body following the attack Monday morning, a Boca Raton police report said.
Best Buy, whose appliances the alleged attacker was delivering, closed its store west of Boca Raton on Tuesday "out of respect" for the victim, and also "indefinitely" suspended its relationship with the delivery company, the company said.
The Minnesota-based company also said an incident like this one never had happened in the company’s 53-year history and that it was launching a full review of how it screens and oversees its delivery contractors.
Police have listed the company as J.B. Hunt. The company’s corporate office didnt’ immediately reply to an email send Wednesday morning.
According to the police report, Dupre Lazacho confessed that he'd attacked the woman after he and another delivery-company worker brought a new washer and dryer to her home in the Colonnades at Glen Oaks, a neighborhood at Jog and Yamato roads just south of Spanish River High School.
The report does not say if he gave police a motive or told them what had provoked him.
At about 9:15 a.m. Monday, the report said, arriving police and firefighters found the woman unconscious in her laundry room, with her clothes on fire.
The main delivery driver, David Gonzalez, told investigators he and Dupre Lachazo had installed the new appliances the woman and removed the old ones.
Gonzalez said he stepped outside to return calls from his office, leaving Dupre Lachazo inside to show the woman how to use the new machines and answer any questions.
Moments later, Gonzalez said, he heard screams and saw the garage door coming down. He stepped back inside and found the woman on the floor.
Gonzalez said Dupre Lachazo was "acting very strange" and told him several times that the two of them needed to leave. Gonzalez said he was in fear and again stepped outside, where he called his supervisor and then 911. While he was on the phone with dispatchers, he said, Lachazo jumped into their truck and drove off.
Police later spotted the truck pulling out of the neighborhood's east entrance onto St. Andrews Boulevard and eventually stopped it on Glades Road, about halfway between Jog Road and Florida's Turnpike.
Officers reported Dupre Lachazo was sweaty and shaking and his lower legs were burned. He was taken to Boca Raton Regional Hospital.
Dupre Lachazo later told police he'd worked for the delivery service for 20 months. He said the delivery was the third of the day and he was showing the woman how to use the machine when he struck her with the mallet, dropping her to the floor.
He said he shut the big garage door, then returned to the laundry room and doused the woman with a chemical. He said he did not know what ignited it. He also admitted he recently had used cocaine and smoked marijuana through a vape pen.
Back at the home, officers found blood on the washing machine as well as on a wine bottle and a wooden mallet that were on the floor. They also found a pair of eyeglasses with bent frames, the report said. The responders found the dryer running and, in the home’s kitchen, that all the burners on the stove, as well as the oven, were on.
Udell was a cataloger at the Florida Atlantic University libraries from November 2003 to April 2018, FAU said late Tuesday.
"Evelyn will be remembered as a kind, caring and hard-working member of the staff," the school said in a statement. "The university is devastated to hear about Evelyn’s passing. We send our deepest condolences to her family, friends and former colleagues."
A check of state records showed no previous arrests for Dupre Lachazo. A call to a telephone number listed for him in the report went to voicemail.
In a statement, Best Buy CEO Corie Barry said the chain is reviewing its delivery programs and is hiring an independent security firm to review how it works with its delivery contractors.
Barry added that, "For more than 20 years, millions of Americans have trusted us to come into their homes and, on days like this, I am fully aware of how precious that trust is."
Staff researcher Melanie Mena contributed to this story.