The 15-year-old son of a West Side woman whose dismembered body was found in the Black Rock Channel last month was arrested Saturday along with a 50-year-old convicted pedophile who police say assisted the teenager in the killing.
Angel Rosa is accused of giving his mother, Madeline Irene, narcotic pills, and when she became incapacitated, strangling her with a cord in their Fargo Avenue home, according to Buffalo homicide investigators.
A possible motive for the killing, police say, involves a friend of the family, Edwin Gimenez, who was convicted of sexually abusing other children in New York State in the 1980s.
Gimenez wanted the woman eliminated so that he could continue sexually abusing Angel and his 12-year-old brother, investigators said.
"Gimenez says the kid did it, and the 15-year-old says Gimenez told him to do it. Gimenez says he only helped with the disposal of the body," said Anthony J. Barba, the police department's chief of investigative services.
There is evidence that Gimenez befriended Irene's two older sons about a year ago and managed to gain a psychological hold on them, said Police Commissioner Rocco J. Diina.
"He had an infatuation for the two boys. This is a 50-year-old who had a tremendous amount of influence over the boys," Diina said.
Angel is charged as an adult with second-degree murder, and Gimenez is charged with four counts of sodomy and one count of kidnapping.
"As the investigation continues, we hope to charge him in the murder. We
hope this 50-year-old man will never see the light of day again," Diina said.
Gimenez claims that he is the younger boy's father, but police say they have no proof that is the case.
Madeline Irene, who also has an older daughter and a 7-year-old son, was killed and dismembered Aug. 18, police said. Parts of the 46-year-old woman's remains were first found Aug. 23 in the Black Rock Channel, along with a 20-pound bag of rice used to weigh down a suitcase containing the body parts .
Police efforts to identify the individual at that time were thwarted because the head and hands had been cut off and were missing, police said, and it seemed unlikely the case would ever be solved.
Eventually, though, a "paid" sticker on the bag of rice helped police identify Irene as the victim and learn how she died.
Police got their first big break late Thursday, when the Erie County Medical Examiner's office received test results identifying the body parts as those of a woman 40 to 50 years old, according to Barba.
On Friday morning, Homicide Detective Mary Gugliuzza searched through the department's voluminous missing persons files and came up with the names of several recently reported missing women.
Detective Sgt. Daniel Figueroa, who went to food stores all over the West Side, was told at Tops supermarket at Grant and Amherst streets by store workers that the paid sticker was from that location.
Gugliuzza provided Tops officials with the names of missing women, which they checked checked against sales records, which revealed that Madeline Irene had recently purchased rice at the store using her Tops BonusCard.
Homicide Detectives Timothy McDonald, Denise Crawford and Detective Sgt. Daniel Derenda then headed to Irene's residence on Fargo Avenue, where they interviewed Angel, who took them to Gimenez's residence on Sherwood Street, also on the West Side.
There, detectives said they found Irene's 12-year-old son and took Gimenez into custody.
The investigators also recovered at Gimenez's residence a plastic garbage can half filled with hardened concrete that they think might contain the woman's missing body parts. Other body parts were also recovered Saturday from the top of a dumpster at Hampshire Street and West Avenue, according to Homicide Lt. Kenneth Bienko.
Police say they have recovered a large amount of evidence, including a sharp instrument that they believe was used to cut up the woman's body, although DNA tests will be needed to verify that, Barba said.
Both Angel and Gimenez confessed to having roles in the murder, but Barba says each blames the other.
Gimenez, who had spent time in California before coming here about a year ago, is not on the New York State Sex Offender Registry, police said. He had been convicted and jailed for sex crimes involving juveniles elsewhere in New York State in 1985 before the registry was established, police said.
The missing person report on Irene was not filed until last Sunday when Joe Irene, her former husband, came to Buffalo from Florida after receiving word from Angel that his mother was missing, police said. Joe Irene is the father of the woman's 7-year-old son.
"He's remorseful, but it is hard to fathom," Barba said of Angel, who claims he was also sodomized by Gimenez.
Angel was described by neighbors on Fargo Avenue as a quiet youth who was in 10th grade at Grover Cleveland High School.
"He was a very nice person. When I was mad, he used to talk to me and calm me down," said 16-year-old Jaret Incles. "He went to church every Sunday. He never missed. He talked to me about God and what God gave up for us."
On Sherwood Street, neighbors of Gimenez said he would sit at his kitchen table and read spiritual books. He told neighbors he received a pension from the Army and was planning to move to New York City.
Barba said police believe Gimenez was planning to flee the area with the 12-year-old.
Meanwhile, Homicide Detectives Mark Stambach and Patrick J. Judge on Saturday continued to interview neighbors and acquaintances of the suspects and the victim.
Angel has been placed in the Juvenile Detention Center on East Ferry Street. Gimenez is in Erie County Holding Center.