Teenagers charged with murder and arson
81-year-old Helen Mills dies during a burglary of her Goshen home
Devin A. Giordano and Jennifer P. Molyneaux
Helen Mills (Photo provided by Village of Goshen Police)
Helen Mills' house at 84 Green Street after the fire (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)
Flowers left in tribute to Helen Mills in front of her house (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)
Village Police Chief James Watt at Tuesday's press conference (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)
Orange County District Attorney Hoovler, left, and Major Patrick Regan of the New York State Police at Tuesday's press conference (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)
Sadness and shock in Goshen
GOSHEN — Sister Carol and Bertie Retel were having ice cream cones at Trailside Treats along the Heritage Trail in Goshen on Tuesday, after law enforcement officials announced the arrest of two teenagers in connection with the death of 81-year-old Helen Mills.
"The fact that it happened in Goshen is embarrassing," Retel said. "It shouldn't be happening."
Sister Carol said she no longer listens to the news.
"We attract what we think about," she said.
Sandee Coleman and Betty Slesinski also stopped in at Trailside Treats. They said they felt so sad about what had happened.
"People will do anything to get their fix," Coleman said. "Their minds are deranged."
"There's so much sadness in our world," Slesinski said.
Paul Corey owns and operates Trailside Treats, which is located about a block from 84 Green Street, where the tragedy took place.
"We have here two kids that did something they'll regret," Corey said. "This is an isolated incident when they weren't thinking straight. I believe this. I have no problems here. I like Goshen. It's nice."
By Frances Ruth Harris
GOSHEN — Two teenagers have been charged with second-degree murder in the death of 81-year-old Helen Mills during a burglary at her home in Goshen.
Jennifer P. Molyneaux, 17, of the Town of Wallkill and Devin A. Giordano, 19, of the Village of Goshen are further alleged to have set Mills' house on fire, law enforcement officials said during an Aug. 5 press conference announcing their arrest.
Investigators believe Molyneaux and Giordano acted together to rob Mills' house for drug money.
“There is a link between illicit narcotics and violent crime,” said Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler. “It is utterly reprehensible that anyone would kill a defenseless, elderly, woman in her own bedroom," said Hoovler. "My office will hold accountable those who violently victimize defenseless citizens to get money to feed their drug habits."
On Saturday, Aug. 2, at approximately 4 a.m., the Village of Goshen Police Department and Goshen Fire Department responded to a fire at Mills’ two-story house at 84 Green Street, about 50 feet from the Heritage Trail. Firefighters discovered Mills’ badly burned body in her bedroom.
Hoovler said an autopsy "revealed reason to believe that Mills had suffered blunt force trauma wounds about her head and throat," which is "consistent with her having been beaten and strangled." The Village of Goshen Police Department then commenced an investigation assisted by the New York State Police and the Orange County Fire Investigations Unit.
Officials say the evidence shows fire accelerants were used. Accelerants were found in several locations in Mills’ residence, including in her bedroom and near her body, they said.
Molyneaux tells relatives
The police believe Molyneaux and Giordano had a relationship with Mills' grandson. Village Police Chief James Watt said the village police knew all of the young people involved.
Molyneaux talked about what happened to her relatives, who called the police, officials said. The police then obtained a warrant to search the homes of the three young people. The murder weapon is not yet known.
Does Goshen have a serious drug problem?
"All communities today have a serious drug problem," Chief Watt told The Chronicle.
Hoovler commended the Village of Goshen Police Department, the state police, and the Orange County Fire Investigations Unit for their investigation of the case.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Leah Canton and Christopher Kelly and will be presented to an Orange County Grand Jury.
Major Patrick Regan of the New York State Police and Orange County Fire Coordinator Vini Tankasali also attended the press conference, along with village Mayor Kyle Roddey and County Executive Steve Neuhaus.
Giordano and Molyneaux were arraigned in village of Goshen Court on Aug 2 in front of Judge Rory Brady, who remanded both to Orange County Jail without bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 8 at noon unless they are indicted first by a grand jury. Molyneaux is being represented by Goshen attorney Alan Joseph. Giordano is being represented by Orange County Legal Aid.
Online: Helen Mills' obituary:
MUST READ NEWS
Sign up to get our newsletter emailed to you every week!
- Enter your email address in the box below.
- Select the newsletters you would like to subscribe to.
- Click the 'SUBSCRIBE' button.