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Letter to Director James B. Comey Federal Bureau of Investigation - Virgin Island Murder Investigation


Location: Newark, NJ

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) asked Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James B. Comey to provide investigation assistance to the parents of a New Jersey man slain in the Virgin Islands. According to James and Rosemary Malfetti, Virgin Island law enforcement failed to perform a meaningful investigation into the murder of their son, James Malfetti III.

"After the unthinkable death of their son, the last thing any parent needs is a hostile and uninterested law enforcement response," Sen. Menendez said. "I am deeply troubled by reports that the police treated a grieving mother and father as a nuisance to be ignored. Law enforcement officers cannot promise a successful investigation, but the family deserves a competent investigation. That is why I asked that federal resources be used to supplement this investigation, so these parents can get the justice they deserve."

Malfetti III, of Scotch Plains, was killed in the U.S. Virgin Islands during a robbery of his residence, yet his parents report that the police failed to perform a routine or reasonable investigation. They reported that police officers failed to perform basic forensic tests, misstated obvious facts, failed to notify them when their son was discovered, and even threatened to deemphasize the investigation if the parents continued to call.

"This police response seems completely unacceptable," Sen. Menendez wrote in a letter sent last week to Dir. Comey. "If my constituents' reports are true, the investigation raises serious professionalism concerns for the police force, and it raises serious safety concerns related to the USVI."

Funeral services for Malfetti III were held Saturday in Fanwood.

Full text of the Sen. Menendez's letter follows:

February 6, 2014

Director James B. Comey
Federal Bureau of Investigation
J. Edgar Hoover Building
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20535

Dear Director Comey,

I write to you to ask if the Federal Bureau of Investigation would be able to provide assistance to the police in the Virgin Islands regarding the murder of one of my constituents, Jim Malfetti III.

The tragic situation was recently brought to my attention by two of my constituents, Jim and Rosemary Malfetti. Their son, Jim Malfetti III, had been living in the U.S. Virgin Islands for roughly a year, and had been staying in a small guest house of a larger estate for the previous two months. On January 18, 2014, thieves broke into both the estate's main residence and the house Jim rented. The thieves stabbed Jim in the neck and robbed him of his money, cell phone, flat screen TV, and car.

While this event by itself is heartbreaking, I am concerned by my constituents' reports about the response of local law enforcement in the Virgin Islands. The robbery at the main estate was reported on January 18, but despite the main estate and the guest house being close together and sharing a driveway, police officers failed to check the entire property and missed the second break-in. Jim's body was only discovered a day later by his landlord. The parents report that the police and landlord failed to notify them that their son had passed away, instead finding out about the murder of their son from a third party. In investigating the murder, Jim's parents state that the police discarded forensic evidence, failed to collect potentially crucial evidence, incorrectly stated the date of death on the death certificate, misstated facts to the parents, and failed to check for fingerprints. My constituents also repeatedly called the local police for updates into the investigation, but were rebuffed and told that if they continue to call their case will be moved to the "bottom of the pile." Even after over two weeks, the police have told the parents that they have not begun to trace the stolen cell phone.

This police response seems completely unacceptable. If my constituents' reports are true, the investigation raises serious professionalism concerns for the police force, and it raises serious safety concerns related to the USVI.

I would very much appreciate any information about this case or assistance you could provide. Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Robert Menendez
United States Senator

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