Jorge Dupre Lachazo, a former delivery driver, is behind bars for the murder of Evelyn Smith Udell, also known as “Evy,” whom he bludgeoned and set on fire at her home in Boca Raton, Florida.
On the morning of Aug. 20, 2019, Lachazo and his co-worker arrived at Udell’s home in the Colonnades at Glen Oaks community on Northwest 49th Street.
They were there to deliver the washer and dryer she had purchased from Best Buy.
Lachazo, a then-21-year-old who lived in an apartment in Hialeah, was working for JB Home Delivery. It was a company that was contracted by Best Buy to deliver their appliances, according to CBS 12.
After they installed the washer and dryer set, the co-worker stepped outside to return several missed calls, while Lachazo stayed behind to speak with Udell, 75, about her new appliances.
It wasn’t long before the co-worker heard a woman screaming. When he ran back inside the house, he saw Udell on the floor with blood on her head, and she had been set on fire.
He immediately called 911 for help.
During that time, Lachazo was in the delivery truck, trying to turn it on, but he was having a difficult time because he didn’t know how to drive.
When he got the vehicle started, he fled the scene.
A responding officer saw Lachazo driving away from Udell’s home and immediately pulled him over.
It was then that he admitted to the officer that he struck Udell on the head with a rubber mallet, which he retrieved from the top of her washing machine.
He then went to the garage, got a chemical, doused her with it, and that’s when he said it “spontaneously combusted.”
Lachazo also mentioned that he had taken cocaine and marijuana earlier that day.
In the officer’s report, he wrote that Lachazo was “very sweaty and was shaking, as if he was [SIC] nervous.”
Lachazo told the officer that he was a “bad person” and he wanted to die. He said, “Use that pistol already. Use it already. Disappear me. Disappear me.”
Before Lachazo was taken into custody, the officer searched him and found $203 in his pocket.
Lachazo was arrested and booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on charges of second-degree attempted murder, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon on a person over 65, and arson.
He was held without bond.
According to The Palm Beach Post, when Boca Raton Fire-Rescue arrived at Udell’s home, they noticed that the dryer was running and the burners on the stove as well as the oven were turned on.
When they went into the laundry room, they found Udell alive, but she had been beaten beyond recognition. Her head was covered in blood, and her clothes were engulfed in flames.
She was sitting upright, leaning against her washer and dryer, and next to her was a single dollar bill that was reportedly burning in flames.
Her wallet was nearby, and it looked as if it had been rummaged through.
Officers believe that the money found on Lachazo’s person belonged to Udell after his co-worker confirmed that he wouldn’t have received that amount of tip money in one day.
Evidence suggested that theft was the motive for the violent attack on Idell, police said.
After firefighters extinguished the fire, Udell was rushed to an area hospital, where she was listed in critical condition.
The following day, she succumbed to her injuries.
Lachazo’s attempted murder charge was amended to first-degree murder.
Udell graduated from Penn State University, where she met her husband of 55 years, and began her career as a librarian at LaSalle University and Gwynedd Mercy College in Pennsylvania.
When she wanted to be closer to her children and grandchildren, Udell moved to Florida and began working as a librarian at Florida Atlantic University in 2003.
She retired more than 15 years later.
When FAU learned about her passing, they released the following statement:
“Evelyn will be remembered as a kind, caring, and hard-working member of the staff. The University is devastated to hear about Evelyn’s passing. We send our deepest condolences to her family, friends, and former colleagues.”
Out of respect for Udell, Best Buy shut down their Boca Raton store for 24 hours and ended their contract with the company that Lachazo was working with.
During an investigation, Lachazo told detectives that he killed Udell because the voices in his head told him to do so. He claimed it said, “Kill her now, or else.”
He later changed his story and said the murder was carried out so that he could steal her money. Lachazo said he needed money because a group of extortionists were after him.
During a three-day bench trial, which was approved by the Palm Beach County Courts on Jan. 6, 2023, Assistant State Attorney Reid Scott argued that neither voices nor extortionists caused the death of Udell.
He said it was “greed” and “an attempt to take money, take more money, take all the money.”
Investigators found his fingerprints on the mallet as well as the chemical bottle that was used to set Udell on fire.
Therefore, the defense attorneys didn’t deny the fact that Lachazo had murdered Udell, but they argued that he didn’t plan to kill her.
On Jan. 25, 2023, Lachazo was found guilty of first-degree murder, burglary, and arson. He was acquitted of the robbery with a weapon charge.
In April of that same year, Lachazo was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He received an additional 30 years for arson.