Cops say a teen boy killed his 74-year-old grandmother at a nudist colony, then stuffed her body in a minivan and drove around till he got caught.
Brandon Machetto, 18, is charged with murder in the death of Sylvia Rosalie Schmitt, whose disappearance from her residence at the Paradise Lakes nudist resort in Lutz, Florida, sparked a Silver Alert this morning.
Here’s what you should know about Brandon Machetto and the death of his grandmother.
1. Machetto Was Driving Schmitt’s Dead Body Around in a Minivan
At a press conference to announce Schmitt’s death and the murder charge against her grandson, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said a neighbor called 911 around 5:30 a.m. saying Schmitt’s grandson had been acting suspiciously and was seen dragging a body into Schmitt’s car. The neighbor “saw feet.” Watch the press conference above.
Sheriff Nocco says a neighbor saw grandson carrying something and saw "feet." Loaded body into minivan, neighbor of Sylvia Schmitt says.
— Erin Maloney (@ErinOnTV) June 23, 2014
Police responded to the home early this morning, discovered “a large sum of blood” in the house and issued the Silver Alert. A few hours later a patrolling officer spotted Schmitt’s minivan, driven by Machetto.
The teen refused to stop, ignoring the cruiser’s wailing siren, but instead of speeding away from the cops he drove slowly back to the nudist colony — never exceeding 25 mph. Machetto even waited calmly for the resort’s gate to open, bringing the slow-speed chase to a momentary pause, before continuing into the private community where he was cut off by another cruiser — stopping just 50 yards from the home where he allegedly murdered his grandmother. Cops arrested Machetto and found Schmitt’s dead body in the van.
Cops say Machetto was “stoic” when they arrested him — staring at the ground and not interested in speaking to investigators. As of this afternoon he had not given a statement to detectives.
2. The Grandson Lived With His Grandmother at a Nudist Colony
BayNews9 reports the teenager had been staying with his grandmother for three or four weeks at her home on Little Magens Loop in the nudist condo association. He had previously stayed with her in the same home.
Schmitt let Machetto live there because he had nowhere else to go. “His parents aren’t in the picture,” said Sheriff Nocco.
“She was trying to help him out,” said a detective speaking to reporters.
3. Machetto Has Prior Arrests & a History of Domestic Violence
The Tampa Bay Times reports Machetto was arrested twice this year, on charges of resisting arrest in March and retail theft in May.
Sheriff Nocco said cops had previously reported to the home for a domestic incident, but Machetto was a juvenile at the time. A detective at the press conference clarified that the previous incident took place in 2012 and involved both Machetto and Schmitt — “basically an argument and threats.” Schmitt chose not to press charges at the time.
4. He Was Hit in the Head With a Rock, Had the Emotional Maturity of a 13-Year-Old, & Was Trained in Israeli Martial Arts
An instructor who taught Machetto in the Israeli martial arts of Krav Maga told the Tampa Bay Times that the boy had been jumped by a group of attackers at age 14 or 15 and was smashed in the head with a rock.
Machetto barely survived the attack, and the trauma stunted his emotional development.
The same man told the newspaper that Machetto frequently stayed with his grandmother because his mom worked too much to care for him.
5. He Was Named ‘Student of the Month’ in Middle School
A student named Brandon Machetto at Pasco County’s Charles S. Rushe Middle School was among the school’s Student of the Month honorees in October 2009.
The school’s newsletter at the time, which you can read in full above, notes:
Students of the month exemplify the “Raven Claws,” i.e., respect, responsibility and problem solving behavior. These students help make Rushe Middle School a safer place to learn, and we are very proud to honor and acknowledge their exceptional performance.