FALL RIVER, Mass. — A 15-year-old girl was ordered held without bail after her arraignment Monday on a charge of murder for allegedly stabbing a 68-year-old woman to death at the victim’s Fall River home Sunday afternoon.
Heavenly Arroyo, formerly of Rochester, New York, is accused of stabbing Ana Vazquez upwards of 20 times and “has made admissions to that effect,” Assistant District Attorney Dennis Collins alleged in court.
The stabbing occurred at the Father Diaferio Village housing complex apartment that Arroyo moved into two weeks ago and where she lived with Vazquez and her grandson, said Gregg Miliote, spokesman for Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn III.
Arroyo was taken into custody Sunday evening, then transported to the Fall River Police Department.
While Arroyo was being monitored at the station, an officer allegedly heard her say, “I killed the old lady, and I am sorry,” according to a police report on file at District Court.
When her name was called in court, the teenager said, “That’s me,” and appeared to shake her head and smile at times during the brief hearing. Arroyo said “thank you” while court instructions were read, then Judge Shelby Smith ordered her held without bail before trial.
Several members of the victim’s family attended the hearing. They declined to speak with reporters.
Police responded to a medical emergency at apartment 59F of the complex located at 220 Johnson St. about 5 p.m. Sunday, according to a police report. The victim’s grandson called 911, Miliote said.
Officers found drops of what appeared to be blood on the stairway leading to the second floor of the residence, according to the report. Vazquez was unresponsive on the floor of her second-floor bedroom, where blood stained bed linens, pillows and a cell phone.
Vazquez had been stabbed repeatedly, and suffered injuries to her face and torso, the report states. She was was pronounced dead at 5:58 p.m. at Charlton Memorial Hospital. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is performing an autopsy.
Arroyo was at the apartment with the victim and the victim’s grandson prior to the stabbing. According to the report, the victim’s grandson told police he was playing video games when Arroyo told him that his grandmother was on the floor of her bedroom.
Arroyo initially told police at the scene that she saw someone wearing all black and a mask run from the back of the apartment building before fleeing in a black car.
Police recovered unidentified items and clothing from a dumpster, the report states. Officers collected items that appeared to be stained with blood.
One of Vazquez’s family members told police that Arroyo had been seen with the items that were collected from the dumpster, according to the report. Another family member said the garments found in the dumpster were similar to clothing Arroyo wore.
Investigators “were able to link” Arroyo to the potential evidence through video surveillance footage the Fall River Housing Authority shared with police, according to the report prepared by Detective Moses Pereira.
Defense attorney John Geary was appointed to represent the teenager and said she was acquainted with the family and permitted to reside in their home.
The defense attorney said he believes one of Arroyo’s parents lives in New York and the other lives in Georgia. He plans to investigate Arroyo’s psychiatric history, saying, “We’ve got to gather a lot of information and find out what is going on with her.”
Arroyo’s appearance at Fall River Justice Center on a murder charge was her first appearance in any courtroom, her attorney said.
“You’ve got to remember, she’s a 15-year-old and this is her first experience as far as I can tell,” Geary said. “She knows she was in court. I don’t believe she knew the seriousness of what was happening.”
Arroyo was not enrolled in classes at Fall River Public Schools, according to Superintendent Matthew Malone.
Heriberto Marin, who lives in the building around the corner from Vazquez’s apartment, said he was home with his children when police arrived Sunday.
“I’m always at home and yesterday I saw the police, ambulances. There were a lot of police everywhere,” he said.
Marin said he was surprised to learn that a resident in the same apartment complex had been murdered.
“This is a community I’ve never had any problems in,” he said. “This is a friendly community.”
Arroyo is due in court for a status hearing on Tuesday, Oct. 15.