Lake Worth men accused of killing Deerfield Beach couple

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. -  DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. - A second suspect from Lake Worth was arrested Friday in connection with this week's stabbing deaths of a Deerfield Beach couple.

The suspect is identified as 38-year-old Michael Marotta.

BSO detectives said both he and Rosario Melici admitted to the robbery, kidnapping and murder of Phillip and Barbara Russo.

Phone records indicate Melici was "essentially at the scene of the homicide during which the murder occurred," according to the arrest report.

According to the arrest affidavit, Melici knew the couple. It states he was once married to Phillip Russo's niece. Melici reportedly visited the couple just a few days before the murder at their Deerfield apartment.

"It makes me sad that someone who knew them would do something like that. They were nice, I bowled with Barb, she was on my team," said neighbor Sherry Grether.

"It's petrifying that they knew these people. How terrible," said Len Barden who golfs at the Deer Creek Golf Club where the couple lived.

The arrest affidavit goes on to say 'blue painter's tape' was found at the crime scene, as well as inside Melici's home. It says he went to the Russo's home a few days before the murders, asking if he could paint the inside of their apartment.

With friends of the slain couple looking on, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel stood in front of the Deerfield Beach City Commission and announced the arrest of a suspect in the couple's murder.

Deputies began their search Monday evening when the daughter of the Russos found them brutally killed. Barbara was 78, Phillip 88.

"We worked tirelessly around the clock to bring this subject into custody." the sheriff said. "This is not a random act of violence. This heinous and reprehensible crime, the Russos were targeted."

Deputies arrested Melici Thursday afternoon in Lake Worth.

Investigators said the victims were bound and had items over their heads and mouth.  One of the items found on both victims was blue painter's tape, according to the Broward County Sheriff's Office.

Melici, who was once married to the niece of Philip Russo, was a painter by trade and had offered to paint the victims' apartment for free, said detectives.

When Melici was interviewed on Nov. 5, investigators said there was a newspaper at his house that was held
together by blue painter's tape. 

DNA swabs taken from the blue painter's tape found inside the victims' home was later found to be consistent with Melici's DNA, said investigators.

"No one deserves anything like this. But certainly not elderly people as old as them who lived a wonderful life and had to succumb to this heinous crime," Rita Masi, a friend of the couple, said. "It's been horrible. I find no peace. I can't even catch my breath to think of what happened to these lovely, lovely people."

NewsChannel 5's Marissa Bagg contributed to this report.

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