Information from a federal inmate may have solved the slaying of Daniel Palumbo.

New Castle police learned Michael Roberts allegedly told Jermaine Flamer he had killed Palumbo with a barstool in Palumbo’s basement on New Castle’s South Side.

After a 14-month investigation, police yesterday arrested Roberts, 26, of 811 Lathrop St. in connection with the killing.

Roberts is accused of entering the Palumbo home at 719 E. Long Ave. and bludgeoning Palumbo while his teenage daughter was upstairs, unaware of the encounter.

Police interviews of suspects eventually pointed them to Roberts.

“He was always a suspect, but everything didn’t really come together until now,” District Attorney John Bongivengo said. Roberts “bragged about it all over the place,” he added.

One person Roberts allegedly told was Flamer, who was jailed in Pittsburgh after being arrested a couple of months ago on federal drug charges.

According to police paperwork, Palumbo’s daughter found him around 11:30 a.m. March 25, 2005. When police arrived, they found him bleeding from severe head and face trauma. He died the next morning in St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown.

An autopsy by the Mahoning County coroner’s office showed Palumbo died of massive head and face trauma. His skull and right eye socket had been crushed, and his upper and lower jaw and nose were broken.

His skull had a “bulls-eye” injury — an outer circle about an inch in diameter with a smaller inner circle — directly over a large skull fracture, the report showed.

A stool covered with blood had been moved away from a basement bar. Bone fragments were embedded in the piping of the vinyl back rest, police said.

A Staples delivery man said he had delivered a computer in person to Palumbo at 10:58 a.m. Police determined the assault occurred between then and 11:32 when he was found.

One acquaintance of Palumbo gave Roberts’ name as a possible suspect, police said.

They interviewed Roberts on March 29, 2005, and he said he had slept on his friend’s couch until noon the day of the killing. When police checked with the friend, she said she had been out of town and could not account for his whereabouts.

Other acquaintances of Roberts told police that he had spoken with them about Palumbo’s death and presented scenarios of what he had done, including tying up Palumbo.

He allegedly told one acquaintance he had heard Palumbo had OxyContin pills at his home, and that he and another man went there to burglarize it. Roberts told the man he had not expected Palumbo to be home and Palumbo had confronted him.

Flamer told police he had spoken to Roberts in the attic of a friend’s house, where Roberts said he was hiding because police were looking for him.

According to police, Flamer told Roberts people were saying he had shot Palumbo, and Roberts denied it at first, then said, “I didn’t shoot Palumbo, I killed him with a bar stool.”

New Castle Police Lt. Abram Smith said yesterday that, although another person might have been involved, no other charges are pending.





MORE ON ROBERTS



His preliminary hearing is set for 11 a.m. May 31 in Lawrence County Central Court.

According to police, Roberts has been in jail for about seven months on a drug-related probation violation from previous drug charges.

He had petitioned the courts for release just before the homicide charges were filed, police said.

Palumbo’s widow, Susan, attended Roberts’ arraignment with a friend yesterday.

She said she knew the police had been working diligently on the case for the past 14 months, adding she was thankful charges finally were filed.

“Everything we heard the first couple of days ended up being true,” she said.

She does not know Roberts, she noted, and said she does not know whether her husband knew him.

“He didn’t talk about him.”

In February, District Attorney John Bongivengo had offered $500 to anyone who had information leading to the arrest and conviction of Palumbo’s attacker.

He said the reward will not be given to anyone, because the information gleaned by police was obtained through their investigation.



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