Elderly Atwater Murder

April 21, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Atwater Police claim a man beat his 72-year-old aunt to death with a cordless phone this weekend.Police came to an apartment complex on Winton Way Saturday night after they claim a man called to report that he had killed his aunt. Officers said when they arrived; they found 72-year-old Maria Branco on the ground with severe injuries to her head, neck, and arms.

Authorities said they also found her 25-year-old nephew, Orlando Becerra, walking out of the bathroom with blood on his body and holding a cordless phone that was also stained with blood.

Officers arrested Becerra while emergency workers flew his aunt to a Modesto hospital. She died from her injuries Sunday morning.

Action News spoke with one neighbor who said Maria Branco was a kind woman and a good friend. "She was a sweet...so kind," said neighbor Linda Andrus.

Police said Becerra has a history of mental illness, and he may have believed his aunt was hurting his father. Becerra is now facing murder charges.