LEVITTOWN, N.Y (CBSnewYork) — Two men were facing murder charges Thursday after police said they stabbed a woman to death inside her Long Island home as part of a revenge plot against her grandson.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, police said Lorraine Pizzichemi, 73, was living with a grandson who many in her Levittown neighborhood knew was dealing marijuana. Erroneous earlier reports had indicated that Pizzichemi was 83.
Pizzichemi ended up being the victim of a drug deal gone bad. She did not have a chance to defend herself Wednesday afternoon when she was attacked with a large kitchen knife in the bedroom of her Levittown home on North Newbridge Road, police said.
“This poor woman didn’t have a chance to defend herself, she didn’t have a chance to say anything, she was attacked in her home,” Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said.
Nassau County Homicide Detective Lt. Steven Fitzpatrick said Benjamin Lopez, 23, who lives three blocks away on Blackbird Lane, and Deangelo Gill, 19, of Uniondale, went to Pizzichemi’s home to seek revenge against Pizzichemi’s 24-year-old grandson.
Lopez shook his head and uttered “I didn’t do it,” as he faced reporters Thursday.
But police said Lopez hacked Pizzichemi to death because they had a gripe with her 24-year-old grandson over marijuana deals gone bad. Gill allegedly went along for the vicious crime.
“Their intent was to rob the house of whatever marijuana and currency they had there, as well as to act our revenge on the 24-year-old,” Fitzpatrick said. “The grandmother being there, they were well aware of that, and if she got in the way, they were going to kill her.”
Police said Lopez and Gill went to the home and hid in the bedroom while waiting for the 24-year-old to leave, and then attacked his grandmother, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.
Police said the two then transacked the house, and when the grandson arrived home, he too was attacked. He managed a call to 911 and was hospitalized in serious condition late Thursday.
A 21-year-old woman was also in the house but wasn’t injured, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.
Pizzichemi lived in the house with her daughter and grandchildren.
“The grandmother was a sweet lady,” one neighbor said.
Neighbors said marijuana sales at the house were no secret.
“His grandmother didn’t deserve that,” said neighbor Kelly Dunn. “Yes, he deals weed, but OK, he’s not pushing heroin or anything else like that.”
“You play with fire, that’s drugs, you get burnt,” added neighbor Philip Supan. “They should have known what he was doing all along. People don’t realize what their kids are doing. They should reach out. There are plenty of opportunities here in Nassau County.”
The Nassau County District Attorney recently launched an elder abuse unit. DA Madeline Singas said older folks are sometimes trapped in dangerous situations — even within their own homes.
“They shouldn’t fear calling the DA’s office because they fear we are going to lock up their grandson or daughter,” Singas said. “They can come to us. We can help them.”
The suspects were nabbed around the corner, where Lopez lived with his mother. Police late Thursday were still guarding the murder scene.
Lopez’s attorney denied any involvement.
Both suspects were charged with murder and were being held without bail late Thursday.