Second arrest made in Deerfield couple murders

Michael Marotta (L) Rosario Melici (R) Photographer: BSO
Michael Marotta (L) Rosario Melici (R) Photographer: BSO
Phillip and Barbara Russo
Phillip and Barbara Russo

DEERFIELD BEACH, FL (WFLX) - 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.

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."

Coppyright 2013 WFLX. All Rights Reserved.