WEST OCEAN CITY – A local woman was murdered in her West Ocean City home last Sunday evening by a neighbor during what allegedly started as a dispute about an unsigned check for some yard work the suspect did for the victim.
Roberto Antonio Murillo, 28, of West Ocean City, is being held behind bars without bail after being charged with the first-degree murder of Cecilia Dea Parker, 56, in her home just a few doors down from his own residence Sunday evening. Parker was discovered deceased in her home on Deep Channel Drive in the Mystic Harbour community shortly after noon on Monday.
Murillo was quickly identified as a suspect and was taken into custody on Tuesday and charged with first-degree murder. During an interview after being taken into custody, Murillo essentially confessed to the crime and provided detectives with his account of the hours leading up to the murder.
Murillo told police Parker had hired him to do some landscaping work around her home and had made payments to him throughout the project. Last Sunday afternoon, Murillo finished the landscaping project while Parker was at work, and when she arrived home from work at around 4:30 p.m., she saw Murillo standing outside his residence and waved him over to her house so she could make the final payment, according to Murillo’s statement.
Murillo then went over to Parker’s house where he obtained a check from the victim for the rest of the work and returned to his own residence. According to Murillo’s statement, he was lying in bed around 8:30 p.m. that night when he pulled the check from his pocket and realized it had not been signed by Parker. Murillo told police he then returned to Parker’s house after seeing a light on and knocked on the front door.
Murillo told police Parker motioned him around to the back door where she asked him what he wanted. Murillo told police he explained to Parker she had not signed the check and handed it back to her. Murillo told police Parker took the check from him and headed back toward a bedroom, presumably to get a pen and sign the check.
However, it appears something happened between that seemingly innocent exchange and what occurred next. Murillo told police Parker returned and told him to get out or she would call the police and tell them he was trying to rob her, according to the suspect’s statement to detectives. Murillo said Parker then took the unsigned check and threw it on the table.
At this point, a physical altercation broke out between Parker and Murillo, according to police reports, and at some point, Murillo produced a knife and stabbed the victim in the side. The fight continued for several minutes with the victim ultimately succumbing to multiple stab wounds to her front and back, according to the statement of charges.
It is uncertain if Murillo brought the knife with him when he went to see Parker about signing the check, or if grabbed it from somewhere in the house during the physical altercation with the suspect. According to police reports, Murillo then left the residence and disposed of the knife. According to one source, he returned to work the next day and acted as if nothing had happened.
Parker, however, did not return to work the next day, which triggered an investigation into the whereabouts and well being of the victim. According to police reports, the investigation began when a co-worker of the victim went to her home to check on her when she did not show up on Monday morning. When the co-worker arrived, he found Parker on the floor and determined she was in need of emergency medical attention.
Troopers and emergency personnel responded to the residence on Deep Channel Drive and found the victim, later identified as Parker, lying unconscious on the floor. They soon determined the victim was deceased and appeared to have multiple stab wounds. The victim’s body has been transported to the Office of the State Medical Examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy, according to police reports.
Detectives developed leads into the crime and identified Murillo as the suspect late Monday night. He was interviewed by investigators and ultimately charged with first-degree murder. It was during those interviews that Murillo laid out what had happened for the detectives. His preliminary hearing has been set for Tuesday, May 13 in District Court in Snow Hill.
Murillo’s immigration status has not been revealed. A tax record search of his residence on Deep Channel Drive reveals the home is owned by two people with the same last name, presumably his parents. However, knowledgeable sources said this week he is a Honduran national who may be wanted in that country on serious charges.
The alleged murder last Sunday was the second homicide in the last 15 months in the otherwise quiet Mystic Harbour community. In January 2007, Pamela Balk was shot and killed in her parents’ Mystic Harbour residence by Gregory W. Stokes, 31, of Baltimore. He later plead guilty and was sentenced to a combined 33 years in jail.