BUCKS COUNTY, PA — A Westfield-based real estate sales associate, who is also a middleweight national champion in Sumo wrestling, faces criminal charges after what she told TAPintoWestfield was her successful effort to recoup the tuxedo cat her former roommate absconded.
Helen Delpopolo, 27, of South Plainfield, is charged with burglary, criminal trespass and simple assault, in connection with what police said in a statement was a “physical dispute” during which Delpololo and Lauren Bowser, 34, of Somerville, are accused of breaking into a home in New Britain, Pennsylvania, and attacking the ex-roommate in an attempt to retrieve the cat. Delpopolo said that she expects the charges to be “immediately dismissed” when she appears in court Sept. 22.
“I’m looking forward to my day in court,” said Delpopolo, a Westfield native. “I know the truth will come out, and whatever happens I’m just so thankful to have my boy back. He’s my family, and my family is whole again.”
Officers from the Central Bucks Regional Police Department arrested Delpopolo and Bowser on Thursday night, police said. In the official version of events, police characterize Delpopolo and Bowser as the aggressors.
“In an attempt to retrieve the cat, they chased the victim into her home breaking a rear sliding door and attacked the victim in the living room,” police said. “The two alleged offenders then chased the victim up the stairs and broke through a bedroom door where they assaulted the victim again causing multiple injuries.”
Delpopolo disputes this police account.
“We both went down there in dress attire from work, with paperwork in hand to have a civil conversation to try to let [her] know if you just give us the cat, I will drop all charges. You can keep this stuff,” Delpopolo said.
The Westfield native said she had previously filed a report with the South Plainfield police alleging that the ex-roommate had on Aug. 31 vacated the apartment in the Middlesex County borough and taken along with the cat, numerous other items belonging to Delpopolo, including a $1,500 coffee table that has a built-in miniature refrigerator.
At the home in Bucks County, the former roommate greeted Delpopolo and Bowser at the rear of the residence and invited them in through a sliding glass door, she said.
“She said ‘I didn’t take anything from you and the cat is not here. Have a look for yourself.’ And she opened up the screen door,” Delpopolo said. “That’s when I stepped in. I saw the litter-box and the smart coffee table in the house and that’s when I called for my cat, and I saw my cat come running. So when he came running I went to run and grab him.”
According to Delpopolo, the former roommate then slammed the door shut and assaulted her.
“She was trying to drag me, so I couldn’t get the cat,” Delpopolo said. The cat then ran upstairs at which point, she gave chase, followed by the former roommate, she said.
Delpopolo said Bowser attempted to pull the former roommate off of her during the melee. “She wanted to deescalate the situation she tried to, you know, just pull her off me,” she said. Bowser is a New Jersey mortuary practitioner and friend, whom Delpopolo has been working for throughout the pandemic.
Delpopolo, who is trained in both Judo and Sumo, said that neither she nor Bowser hit the former roommate.
“There was no striking or anything like that,” she said. “The only time there was conflict was when she was hitting my head and hitting my neck, Lauren was trying to defuse the situation. She was trying to get her off.”
According to Delpopolo, the ex-roommate called police while herself damaging an upstairs door of the home to make it appear as if she was being attacked.
“I think she invited me in to set me up, to be honest,” Delpopolo said.
She said the altercation ended with her locking her cat in the car and that following her and Bowser’s arrest, police handed off the feline — named James Bond — to her mother.
Delpopolo was transported to the Bucks County Correctional Facility in Doylestown, where she was held overnight prior to posting bail on Friday. Delpopolo remains confident that when she appears in the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas, she will have the facts on her side.
“Court will happen, and everything will turn out right,” Delpopolo said. “I expect a full dismissal and an expungement.”