Indian-American woman murdered in California motel

July 12th, 2012 - 10:38 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 12 (IANS) A US Army veteran has been charged in the brutal sexual assault and murder of a 62-year-old Indian American woman at a motel in California run by her family, according to local media report.

Stephen Carreiro, 25, was arraigned Tuesday in San Joaquin Superior Court on charges that he raped and murdered Lalita Patel Saturday night at the Hacienda Inn, in Tracy city, California, San Jose Mercury News reported.

Carreiro was naked when he was arrested around 7:15 p.m. Saturday after fighting with witnesses and police at the motel, it said.

In addition to charges of murder, elder abuse, and resisting arrest, prosecutors filed five special-circumstances counts of murder during the commission of a burglary, rape, rape with a foreign object, sodomy and mayhem, Mercury News said.

Police said that Carreiro had also attacked the victim’s 82-year-old mother, but would not give the details of that assault. She is expected to recover from her injuries. But it would not describe the nature of Carreiro’s attack on Patel or reveal whether a weapon was used.

Carreiro had recently been discharged from the Army, Mercury News said citing Tracy police Capt. John Espinoza.

Patel was found near the office of the motel, where she was working Saturday night, Espinoza said. She was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Espinoza confirmed that there was a live-in unit next to the motel office for employees, but would not say if that room was where Patel was found.

Carreiro is being held without bail at the San Joaquin County Jail. He will appear next at a hearing on July 24.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

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