MAHOPAC, N.Y. - The man who police say murdered a Mahopac grandmother in her home last week has committed suicide.
Perla Gatchalian, 75, was found dead in her home on Coventry Circle last week, the victim of a single gunshot wound.
Carmel Police Chief Mike Cazzari said that the subsequent investigation led police to determine that Gatchalian was killed by her daughter’s 69-year-old father-in-law, Filippo Buffone of Harrison, N.Y. He said there is no indication that anyone else was involved.
Cazzari said that family finances were the motive for the homicide but would not go into further details.
“It is believed the motive is rooted in anger over financial issues,” the chief said during a press conference at Carmel Town Hall Wednesday morning (May 3). “That is as specific as I am going to get right now.”
Buffone took his own life early Tuesday morning (May 2) in the parking lot of a business near his home on Park Avenue in Harrison. Police said he left his home and walked to the parking lot where he shot himself. State police, who were investigating the suicide, said family members discovered him missing around 4:30 a.m. and called the police. A Harrison police officer discovered his body at around 6:15 a.m.
Cazzari said that Buffone was identified as the primary suspect within 24 hours of the crime. He called it a painstaking and detailed investigation and said police were still waiting for autopsy and lab results.
“There was a lot of evidence to collect,” he said.
Cazzari said that what investigators believe is the murder weapon was discovered on Tuesday with the assistance of the Yorktown Police Department and state police.
“We recovered what we believed to be the murder weapon,” he said. “We are waiting for lab tests to come back to confirm it.”
The gun was discovered off the side of Route 6 in Yorktown with the help of K-9 police dogs. Cazzari said it was not the same gun used in the suicide.
The chief said that Gatchalian’s body was discovered by a family member on the afternoon of April 27, although initial police reports indicated that a neighbor had found her and notified authorities. Gatchalian lived with her daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren. Police said the family was cooperative during the investigation and there is no indication that anyone else was involved in the crime.
“They are devastated,” he said. “They’ve lost two grandparents now.”
Cazzari said Gatchalian was home alone when she was murdered. He said there had been no reports of any previous problems at the residence.
“We have no indication of there being any type of [long-standing feud] of any kind,” he said.
Cazzari gave credit to other law enforcement agencies that aided Carmel police in the investigation, citing state police, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, the district attorney’s office, the Yorktown and Harrison police departments, as well as the Carmel Highway Department, which he said assisted investigators in searching for evidence.
"Our detective division did an outstanding job on this" Cazzari said. "I would also like to thank our community and business owners who came forward with information,”
Cazzari said the victim was specifically targeted in this crime and that the community at large should not be concerned for their safety.
“This is a very safe community,” he said. “I would not act any differently.”