James “Jimmy” Malfetti
ST. THOMAS — After more than a year of persistent efforts — including federal political contacts, a private investigator and measured public criticism of V.I. Police Department — to keep attention on the unsolved murder of their son on St. John, the family of James Malfetti III, 41, responded succinctly to the announcement of the arrest of a suspect in the case.
“We are filled with gratitude and joy at the news of an arrest,” Ro Malfetti of New Jersey e-mailed St. John Tradewinds after the arrest was announced late Friday, April 18. “It has been a long, trying, and difficult 15 months, yet the love, prayers, and support of others sustained us and gave us the much needed strength to carry on.”
Malfetti, 41, an internet entrepreneur, was found dead in his newly-rented south shore apartment on St. John with his throat stabbed and slit in January 2014, the apparent victim of a burglary. His parents, James and Rosemary, reached out publicly for help in the face of apparent missteps in the investigation of their son’s death which may have begun with the initial police response to the scene on a burglary report at the main house on the property one day before Malfetti’s body was discovered.
Subsequently, there were questions raised about Malfetti being the victim of mistaken identity having recently moved into the apartment whose previous tenant was scheduled to testify in a criminal case which was dropped after the murder.
The V.I. Police Department issued a simple three-paragraph press release announcing the 5:30 p.m. Friday arraignment of Mekel Blash, 27, of Nadir “who was arrested and charged with First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, First Degree Assault, Third Degree Assault, Use of a Dangerous Weapon during the Commission of a Crime of Violence, Grand Larceny and first Degree Burglary.”
The arrest of Blash was made in connection to January 19, 2014, homicide of Mr. James Malfetti that occurred in Chocolate Hole, St. John.
“No bail was issued for Mekel Blash by order of the Honorable Judge Kathleen McKay of the Superior Court,” the VIPD statement concluded. “Mekel Blash was processed and remanded to the Bureau of Corrections pending his Advise of Rights Hearing.”
Family Hopes “Justice Will Prevail”
Ro Malfetti’s wrote St. John Tradewinds and the St. John community shortly after the arrest was announced.
“We started this public journey to honor our son, determined to bring his murderers to proper Justice,” Ro Malfetti wrote. “During this process, our eyes were opened to the very high homicide rate in the territory, and the inappropriate ratio of cases that result in an arrest and conviction.”
“We came to recognize that this was not just about us, and our son, but that we were part of a much bigger story.
“It was this realization that made us determined to bring greater transparency to the concerns regarding the Justice system in the territory, and to persevere in our efforts for all the families that have been pained by crime, and continue to await Justice,” Mrs. Malfetti wrote. “Our greatest hope is that Justice will begin to prevail for all victims of crime and their families.”
“Please note that we could never have reached this point without the support, love and prayers of our dear family, friends, and the engagement of the V.I. community,” she added.
“To the people of the USVI, it was your stories and your engagement that propelled us forward in our fight for Justice for Jimmy, and for ALL the victims of crime in the territory,” she concluded her brief message. “We pray this momentum can continue, and together we can be part of true and lasting change in the USVI.”