MELBOURNE, Fla. - A Palm Bay man is accused in the beating death of his ailing 70-year-old mother, then dismembering her body and discarding the remains in a drainage ditch.
Authorities arrested 49-year-old Francis Riccio on Thursday in Brooklyn, N.Y., following a two-week investigation. He's being held without bond on charges of first-degree murder and abuse of a dead body. He will be returned to Brevard County soon.
Florida Today reported Riccio moved his family to New York shortly after Maureen Riccio was killed in late March.
Brevard County Sheriff's Maj. Tod Goodyear Maureen Riccio lived with her son, his girlfriend and their three children - two teenagers and a 10-year-old. Goodyear said the children appeared to be unaware of what happened to their grandmother.
"What we believe happened was sometime in late March, an argument escalated between our victim, her son and this female," Goodyear said. "It became violent, whereupon the son beat his mother to death."
An electrical technician who had stopped along a road near Palm Bay spotted Riccio's remains on May 14.
Detectives used evidence gathered at the scene to determine identity of the body. They traced her address to a Melbourne residence, but didn't have a missing persons report from the home. Investigators learned that she had lived in the rental house with her son and his family.
According to detectives, the relationship between the mother, son and his girlfriend became strained. They say he tried to find a facility to care for her, but couldn't.
Goodyear said investigators believe the mother was beaten to death, then left in the home while her son looked for tools, bags and cleaning supplies.
"At one point, the son dismembered his mother in order to make her easier to transport," Goodyear said.
Detectives believe he drove the remains to the ditch a couple of days after killing her.
In early April, the family pulled their kids out of school and moved to Brooklyn. Officials are trying to contact her estranged daughter.
Goodyear said authorities worked with the New York Police Department to find the family and question them. The girlfriend, whose name hasn't been released, is also being investigated.
"It can be very hard sometimes to take care of elderly parents," Goodyear said. "It can be very frustrating, but I think that's one of those things we sign on for as sons and daughters."
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