Desperate for answers and V.I. Police Department action in the investigation of the murder of their son, James Malfetti III, 41, on St. John in January 2014, hi family in New Jersey does not want to hear that “word on the street” is the internet entrepreneur may have been killed in a case of mistaken identity.
An early rumor that Malfetti may been mistaken for the previous tenant of the apartment and killed before the apartment was burglarized continues to pervade the case.
Vicious Assault of Former Tenant
A vicious, late-night street assault in downtown Cruz Bay was caught by a surveillance camera as several young island men savagely beat and kicked a young resort employee after a verbal confrontation.
“I’ve seen the tape,” a Cruz Bay business owner said. “It was brutal. They kicked the shit out of him.”
As “Matty” recovered from his injuries – which reportedly included surgeries to repair damage from repeated kicks to his face – he pursued the arrest and criminal prosecution of his attackers with the VIPD and the Office of the V.I. Attorney General.
Staying on island for the expected trial of his attackers – reportedly several young island men identifiable on the surveillance video tape — who had been charged, “Matty” also feared for his safety and moved from his isolated rental studio apartment at a south shore luxury vacation home as he continued to work his nearby resort job, according to friends.
Assault Victim Moves Out in Fear
James Malfetti, a successful internet entrepreneur who had settled on St. John to pursue his love of water sports, moved into Matty’s desirable south shore apartment in a vacation home neighborhood known for occasional burglaries and within a month was killed there.
Malfetti had suffered “puncture wounds on his neck,” according to a VIPD press release.
The private investigator hired by his family declined to comment on whether Malfetti had suffered puncture wounds to his neck or if the young man’s throat had been cut — or the implication that Malfetti, mistaken for the former tenant, was “silenced.”
Matty, the former tenant, has now left the island and the status of the prosecution of his complaint against the men who beat him could not be determined.
Parent’s Pleading for Public Help
The parents of the Malfetti are asking for the public’s help after months of holding back so as not to interfere with the V.I. Police Department investigation of their son’s murder.
Ro and Jim Malfetti of New Jersey are asking the public for any help in finding out who killed their son after hearing nothing about the apparently stalled murder investigation from V.I. Police.
“We are at a standstill right now,” the Malfetti’ e-mailed St. John Tradewinds in July, seven months after their son’s murder. “Have you heard anything at all regarding his murder? Is there word on the street? Can you connect us with someone that may have some answers?”
“There has been no progress in our son Jim Malfetti’s murder investigation,” the Malfettis wrote. “There has been no action taken and no communication from the USVI PD.”
The Malfettis brought in their own private investigator shortly after their son was murdered. When they subsequently offered a reward for information, it conflicted with the reward limit for the U.S. Virgin Islands Crime Stoppers tip program.
The Malfettis enlisted the support of N.J. U.S. Senator Robert Menendez immediately following their son’s death and employed their own investigator. The VIPD cutoff contact with the Malfettis after the negative stateside publicity.
Speculation on Burglary Connection
Initial speculation had tied Malfetti’s murder to an attempted burglary of the main residence on Friday night, more than a day before the property manager checked Malfetti’s separate apartment on the property and found him dead.
The Malfetti family complained that the police report subsequently incorrectly listed their son’s time of death as Sunday, when Malfetti’s body was discovered, not Friday night or Saturday morning, when the unsuccessful attempted burglary of the main residence had been reported.
VIPD officers had responded to the scene Saturday and investigated the house burglary without checking the Malfett’s apartment.
Police initially linked Malfetti’s death to the burglary of the main residence because electronic equipment was missing from Malfetti’s apartment and Malfetti’s vehicle was found nearby where other stolen vehicles linked to previous neighborhood burglaries had been abandoned.
St. John Tradewinds sources said some of the missing electronics and Malfetti’s cell phone have since been recovered,
The case was being investigated by the Major Crime Bureau and Intelligence Agents, according to the VIPD, and forensic technicians collected and were processing evidence.
Todd Phoenix, the Malfetti’s private investigator, who spent five days on St. John investigating Malfetti’s death in January, has said there were “other persons of interest” in the case, but he dismissed the possibility Malfetti was killed in a case of mistaken identity.
The private investigator at the time also said he had limited official contact with VIPD investigators.