Schizophrenic kills parents, flees country
Staten Island Real-Time News
Officials nab son of slain Staten Island couple as he tries to bolt Israel for China
Published: Saturday, October 16, 2010, 12:49 AM Updated: Saturday, October 16, 2010, 8:49 AM
Peter N. Spencer
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- He ran out of money, and luck.
With authorities a few steps behind him, Eric Bellucci, the 30-year-old Annadale man suspected of killing his parents in their Poillon Avenue home Wednesday, nearly eluded capture after flying to Israel.
Bellucci was taken off a flight by a federal security agent -- then let go -- and narrowly missed being flagged as he went through customs at the airport in Tel Aviv.
But due to his own missteps, and money issues, Bellucci is instead headed back to Staten Island. The former high school scholar-athlete, who relatives say suffers from violent schizophrenia, is expected to be charged in the killings of his father, 61-year-old Arthur Bellucci, and mother, 56-year-old Marian Bellucci.
Bellucci was detained early yesterday at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport after he tried to buy a one-way ticket to China, via Turkey, and his credit card was declined. While Bellucci went to get cash from an ATM, an airport attendant recognized him from media reports and called police.
The news came as a big relief to his relatives, who feared he would come back to kill them, and to detectives, who feared he would walk across the border to Jordan, which has no extradition agreement with the United States.
"He could have just gotten lost somewhere," said a law enforcement source close to the investigation.
Bellucci had a 24-hour head start on detectives.
He drove his parents' 2007 Honda Ridgeline pickup to Newark Liberty International Airport, parking it there at 7:30 a.m., E-ZPass records show. Bellucci then used a pay phone at the airport to purchase a $1,300 round-trip ticket to Tel Aviv on El Al Airlines, according to sources. The flight departed at 2:45 p.m.
As Bellucci was getting on the plane, an agent from the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) noticed he was acting nervous, and pulled him off the line for questioning. They searched his bag and took his name, but returned Bellucci to the plane because he was not on the no-fly list, and there were no warrants for his arrest.
That was hours before Vanessa Bellucci, 26, went to her family's home after trying to raise her mother via phone and text messages, after Mrs. Bellucci failed to show up for work. Vanessa and Eric both worked at their mother's home health care company, CareMates Inc., on Moseley Avenue in Annadale.
About 8:30 p.m., Vanessa opened the door to the colonial home, to find blood all over the foyer. She called 911, and police arrived at the gruesome scene. The father was found in an upstairs bedroom, where he had been stabbed "dozens" of times, including in the neck and chest, sources said.
A bloody trail led downstairs to the living room, near the front entrance, where the mother lay face down, with stab wounds across her body and back. Her purse was nearby.
After the killings, Eric showered, leaving behind blood-soaked clothing and blood in the bathtub. Detectives also recovered a bloody knife they believe to be the murder weapon.
They also discovered empty rifle boxes, inspiring fear in the family that Eric would come back to finish them off. Police gathered relatives together at one location and kept guard over them while they searched for the suspect, sources said.
Though detectives were unaware of it at the time, Arthur Bellucci had earlier brought the guns to a buy-back program at the 123rd Precinct in Tottenville, for fear his son would use them.
Police did not learn that Bellucci was on El Al Flight 28 until early Thursday. For hours, they tried to contact El Al Airlines or officials in Israel, finally reaching an agent from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about 8 a.m., who confirmed Bellucci was on the flight manifest.
The plane had landed in Tel Aviv about two hours earlier.
Bellucci used his credit card to rent a car in Israel, according to records tracked by police. They believed Bellucci was there to visit a friend -- whom they did not identify -- but are not sure if he ever met up with him.
They suspected Bellucci would not stay in the country for long.
"He was smart. He knew he needed to get to a country without extradition," another source said.
Israel Interior Minister Eli Yishai instructed the Population Authority to expel Bellucci, rather than wait for an extradition order. An NYPD spokesman said they were working with the Staten Island district attorney's office to obtain an arrest warrant for Bellucci, and hope to return him to the United States by tomorrow.
They may opt to wait longer, however, and continue to question him as a detainee. Bellucci's right to counsel is in effect as soon as he is officially arrested.
There is also the issue of his mental status. Bellucci was diagnosed as a schizophrenic, twice committed to a hospital for mental observation and had threatened in the past to commit suicide, police and relatives said. It is unclear if a judge would be able to force him to take medication to assist in his own defense.
His relatives don't believe that should be an excuse.
"Eric was lucid enough to get cleaned up and board an international airplane, then he is lucid enough to stand before a judge," his uncle, Joe Ciervo of Annadale, told a newspaper yesterday.
"Eric had it in for my family since they put him in the clinic for help," Ciervo said. "We want justice."