A 15-year-old boy suspected of killing an elderly Niles woman has been charged with aggravated murder.


Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins says that on Tuesday afternoon, Niles police found the body of Marie Belcastro in her Cherry Avenue home.


Watkins says the injuries Belcastro suffered and the condition inside her home made it apparent that her death was a homicide.


Assistant Prosecutor Chris Becker and Chief Juvenile Prosecutor Stanley Elkins determined that there was enough probable cause to charge Jacob Larosa with aggravated murder.


After reviewing the circumstances of the crime with Niles police, Watkins says that he has decided that the case should be transferred to adult court.


Becker says that Larosa would first have to undergo what is known as an amenability hearing in juvenile court before the transfer to adult court can be made. 


Larosa was arrested late Tuesday and appeared in juvenile court on Wednesday. He will remain in custody of juvenile authorities until his next hearing.


Although police have characterized the crime as a beating death, the Trumbull County Coroner is still investigating and has not issued a ruling on the cause of death.


By noon Wednesday, a makeshift memorial consisting of stuffed animals and flowers had appeared in front of the victim's home.


Belcastro, who police say was in her nineties, was found by an ambulance crew that had been hailed down by the victim's daughter who discovered blood stains when she was checking on the welfare of her mother late Tuesday.


Neighbors say Larosa had performed odd jobs for the victim in the past.


"It's very sad, it's unbelievable, something you just wouldn't think would happen in broad daylight," Jamie Mullane said, Belcastro's neighbor.


A woman claiming to be Larosa's sister says her brother was recently released from the Trumbull County Juvenile Detention Center on Tuesday.


The manager at a nearby gas station says LaRosa tried to buy cigars and alcohol Tuesday afternoon, but was turned away twice.


"I went to the window and I know him personally, his family personally, so I refused to sell it to him, because he's underage," Sheli Devinney said, the gas station manager. "He was shaking, he was a little nervous, I didn't know why."

The prosecutor's office will be taking all steps necessary to try LaRosa as an adult. Until then, he remains in custody of juvenile authorities until his next hearing.

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