U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., has strongly criticized the U.S. Virgin Islands Police Department and asked Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James B. Comey to provide assistance to the parents of James Malfetti III, a Scotch Plains, NJ, native who was found stabbed to death on St. John on January 19.
The man’s parents claim U.S. Virgin Islands law enforcement failed to perform a meaningful investigation into the death of their son, according to a letter from Sen. Menendez to the FBI’s Comey.
“In investigating the murder, Jim’s parents state that the police discarded forensic evidence, failed to collect potentially crucial evidence, incorrectly stated the date of death on the death certificate, misstated facts to the parents, and failed to check for fingerprints,” Sen. Menendez wrote the FBI. “Even after over two weeks, the police have told the parents that they have not begun to trace the stolen cell phone.”
VIPD Response “Completely Unacceptable”
“This police response seems completely unacceptable,” Sen. Menendez wrote. “If my constituents’ reports are true, the investigation raises serious professionalism concerns for the police force, and it raises serious safety concerns related to the USVI.”
After Sen. Menendez’s letter was released on Tuesday, February 12, VIPD Commissioner Rodney Querrard said that local FBI agents are assisting with the VIPD investigation.
“We will continue to work all angles of this case until we identify the perpetrator(s) who fatally stabbed Mr. Malfetti on St. John,” Comm. Querrard said in his press statement.
Malfetti had been living in the Virgin Islands for about a year and was staying in a small guest house on the property for the past two months, according to the letter Menendez sent to FBI Director Comey. On January 18, thieves allegedly broke into the main house and the guest house Malfetti was renting, according to the press release from Menendez.
Malfetti was stabbed in the neck and robbed of his money, cellphone, flat-screen television and car, according to the letter.
Menendez’s letter to the FBI states that the robbery of the main estate was reported Jan. 18, but police failed to check the entire property and missed the second break-in, even though the guest house is nearby and both homes share a driveway. Malfetti’s body was discovered a day later by his landlord, according to Tradewinds sources.
James and Rosemary Malfetti, the parents of James Malfetti III, said they found out about their son’s death from a third party, not police or the landlord, according to the letter from Sen. Menendez.
“My constituents also repeatedly called the local police for updates into the investigation, but were rebuffed and told that if they continue to call their case will be moved to the ‘bottom of the pile,’” the senator wrote.
“Hostile, Uninterested Law Enforcement”
“After the unthinkable death of their son, the last thing any parent needs is a hostile and uninterested law-enforcement response,” the senator wrote. “I am deeply troubled by reports that the police treated a grieving mother and father as a nuisance to be ignored. ”
“Law-enforcement officers cannot promise a successful investigation, but the family deserves a competent investigation” Sen. Menendez continued. “That is why I asked that federal resources be used to supplement this investigation, so these parents can get the justice they deserve.”
Malfetti graduated from Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School in 1991 and Clemson University in 1995. In 2004, he founded Brandywine Data Management, a company specializing in SAP archiving consulting work, according to his obituary.
St. John friends of Malfetti attended a memorial service at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church in Cruz Bay on Friday, January 24, before Malfetti’s parents returned to New Jersey with his body. Funeral services for Malfetti were Saturday, February 8, in Fanwood, NJ.