General Crime

2 Arrested in Home Invasion, Elder Beating Last Month in El Cerrito

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Police arrested a man and a woman Tuesday in connection with a home invasion and severe beating of an elderly couple in El Cerrito last month. The U.S. Marshals Service Task Force in Oakland arrested John Lee, 30, and Donna Racheal Demitro, 24, both transient residents of Alameda County, El Cerrito police said today. Police responded to a 911 call on Sept. 13 from an El Cerrito residence, where they found a married couple in their 90s suffering from multiple injuries.

The couple told police they had been victimized twice in two days. On Sept. 12, Lee and Demitro allegedly approached the elderly couple and conversed with them about their flowers, asking for clippings. The suspects talked their way into the home and spoke with the husband as the wife clipped flowers for them. Later that evening, the elderly couple realized they were missing their wallets, jewelry, and cash.

The couple called their son, who canceled their credit cards, but they did not call police. The following day, Lee and Demitro reportedly parked directly in front of the couple’s house, this time carrying a dolly, and they again were allowed into the couple’s home, police said.

The suspects engaged them in conversation and told them that the dolly was for their use. Lee engaged the husband in conversation while Demitro asked the wife for warm water, according to police. When they were separated, Demitro shouted something to Lee and they both began to beat the husband and wife.

Lee allegedly bound the husband with duct tape in the back bedroom, police said. Demitro allegedly stabbed the wife in the arm with a sharp instrument and bound her with light rope.

The wife tried to call 911, but Demitro reportedly saw it and beat her again, police said. After the suspects left, the wife fled through the side door and sought help from a neighbor. The husband got himself free and called 911.

Both victims were taken to a hospital, but their injuries were not life-threatening, according to police.

While processing the crime scene on Sept. 13, technicians from the El Cerrito Police Department recovered evidence that was taken to the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office Crime Lab in Martinez for processing. The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office provided senior inspectors to assist with the investigation.

Based on the evidence, police obtained arrest warrants for the suspects. The U.S. Marshals Service then arrested Lee and Demitro at about 2 p.m. Tuesday on suspicion of robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, burglary, battery causing serious bodily injury, false imprisonment, conspiracy, and enhancements for great bodily injury on a person over 70 years of age.

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