Police commissioner releases statement in wake of murder victim's family's criticism of department

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ST. THOMAS - V.I. Police Commissioner Rodney Querrard Sr. responded to scathing criticism of his department's investigation into a murder on St. John last month by issuing a public statement on Wednesday.

However, the statement did not address any of the concerns raised by the family of murder victim James Malfetti III or that were in a letter from Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., to FBI Director James Comey.

James Malfetti's family told The Daily News on Tuesday that the police had been dismissive of their attempts to reach out to them. The police also have failed to conduct a proper investigation of the murder of their 41-year-old son, the family said.

Malfetti, who had been living on St. John for about a year, was from New Jersey originally, which prompted Menendez's letter asking that asked that Comey's agency intervene in the local investigation by the V.I. Police Department and the V.I. Attorney General's Office.

One of the family's prime grievances is that police had concluded that Malfetti had been stabbed to death the same date that they found his body, Jan. 19. His family contests that he more likely died the day before, when police received a report of a burglary on the same premises as the guest house Malfetti was renting.

Querrard did not return calls from The Daily News on Wednesday.

"Within the last two days, I have met with all aspects of police operations involved in this ongoing investigation including the forensics and major crime unit, as well as the prosecutors office of Department of Justice to update the case and lay out the leads we are following," Querrard said in the prepared statement.

Querrard said he has appointed St. Thomas-St. John Police Chief Darren Foy and victims advocate Desiree Lambertis as the liaisons between the Major Crime detectives and the family, though he said that details concerning the leads and the evidence making up the case could not be released.

"There are sensitive issues regarding this investigation that should not be included in any public statement. However, we will update the victim's parents and address their issues to the best of our ability without compromising the case," Querrard said in the statement.

However, Malfetti's parents, Jim and Rosemary Malfetti, told The Daily News on Wednesday evening that they had not yet heard from the V.I. Police Department, nor had they been informed of the commissioner's statement.

"Not that I know of," Rosemary Malfetti said from her home in New Jersey when asked whether she had been contacted by the V.I. Police Department.

Though Querrard said the police have been taking all necessary steps from the day Malfetti's body was found to conduct a complete investigation, he did not address the concerns of the victim's parents.

They raised questions, as did Menendez in his letter to Comey, about Malfetti's time of death; why the police did not look at the guest house when investigating the main house after the Jan. 18 burglary report; why they found out about their son's death through a third party; and why they had been unable to reach anyone within the police department or within the V.I. Attorney General's Office since their son's death.

"This case is an active investigation and we will continue the process of investigating the unfortunate death of James Malfetti until we can file a criminal complaint and effectuate an arrest in the case," Querrard said in the statement. "A criminal investigation is a process and in some instances the process takes time to yield results."

Querrard also said in the prepared statement that local FBI agents are assisting police in the investigation. He did not say why, or whether the FBI's help in a murder case is customary.

"We will continue to work all angles of this case until we identify the perpetrator(s) who fatally stabbed Mr. Malfetti on St. John," Querrard said in the statement.

Anyone with information about the case can call the police at 715-5506, 642-8449, or the territory's anonymous tip line at CrimeStoppers USVI at 1-800-222-8477.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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