NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – Cherry Street in Niles is a much different place today than it was before 94-year-old Marie Belcastro was murdered and her neighbor, 15-year-old Jacob Larosa, was implicated in brutally beating her inside her home.
“You got to be very more careful,” neighbor Aza Cox said.
Cox said that while Belcastro had a security system sign in her front yard, it was never installed.
“I would talk to her, wave at her. She was such a nice person, you know what I mean. But I wish she would have gotten that system put in,” Cox said.
At Belcastro’s house, police tape is back up, and a growing memorial sits outside. Kelly Jo Porter, who lives across the street, came out to light candles on Friday night. She said she used to keep her doors unlocked, but after this, she said she won’t do that anymore.
“We are not going to do that anymore. We are scared now and that is not how it is supposed to be in a small town,” Porter said.
This murder also has caught the eye of the Area Agency on Aging.
“It is a wake-up call for other people to be a little more alert,” Lisa Solley from the Area Agency on Aging said.
Solley said seniors tend to be more trusting, especially with people they know.
“Because you have seen them grow up and you have talked to them, they have talked to you. But even then, you can ask for references or “who else have you worked for?’ and then call those people and find out what kind of work this person did or find out a little more about them,” Solley said. “Every time you ask for those kind of credentials or say ‘hey, you don’t look familiar’ and ‘I am going to call the agency’ or ‘do you have identification?’, those kinds of things, all of that makes it a lot harder for that person to come in and do bad things to you.”
Seniors should keep medicines locked up and out of sight. They can also pick up “The Navigator,” which is a resource guide with a list of home providers that are certified in the state of Ohio to assist seniors.