BREAKING NEWS: Pimp And Prostitute Arrested in Murder Connection At Motel 6

BREAKING NEWS: Pimp And Prostitute Arrested in Murder Connection At Motel 6

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By Kim Ring


A body discovered in Providence yesterday inside a storage container is believed to be a missing Worcester man, Joseph Webster.

A spokesman for Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said in a press release that Rhode Island State Police, using a trained dog, found the body inside the container on Wesleyan Avenue, not far from the apartment shared by two suspects in the disappearance — Lara Cori, 22, and James Howze, 19, of 37 Harvard Ave.

Timothy Connolly, spokesman for Mr. Early, said an autopsy will be done by the Rhode Island chief medical examiner to make a positive identification. Mr. Webster’s family was told of the discovery yesterday afternoon.

The body was found about noon after Providence police received a tip from police in Cranston that a body might be at 101 Wesleyan Ave. Providence and Cranston police, along with Rhode Island troopers, searched and found the body of a male, covered by debris, in the rear yard of the home.

Ms. Cori, who also uses the alias Lara Corey, and Mr. Howze were both arraigned Monday on charges related to the disappearance. They are believed to have assaulted Mr. Webster inside a room at Motel 6 in Northboro, where they were captured on video leaving late on the evening of March 13, the day Mr. Webster, a mildly autistic man who also has diabetes, disappeared. Mr. Webster was seen on video going into the motel but he was never seen leaving.

The suspects later returned to the motel and appeared to gather some items before leaving again, according to court documents.

A search of their room turned up bloodstains on the carpet. State police investigators also found blood outside the rear of the motel, drag marks in the brush and a shovel inside the room.

They are still trying to find Mr. Webster’s missing 2003 Cadillac Seville, which was last seen in Providence. Ms. Cori and Mr. Howze allegedly tried to sell the car in Providence on March 15, with Mr. Howze telling a potential buyer it was “hot” and that he’d had to “poke,” meaning stab, someone.

When the pair was captured in New York a few days later, a bloody shoe was found among their possessions, Assistant District Attorney Lisa Casella said.

The pair could face additional charges based on the discovery of the body, said Mr. Early, who was in court for Ms. Cori’s arraignment Monday.

“We hope the extended Webster family can bring their son home,” Mr. Early said in a written statement.

The discovery of the body came a few hours after a family friend, Vincenzo Frat’Antonio, placed a large statue of St. Joseph inside Mr. Webster’s uncle’s bakery at 339 West Boylston St., West Boylston, where Joseph Webster was scheduled to start a new job. The statue usually stands in Mr. Frat’Antonio’s home.

Customers said St. Joseph is the patron saint of families and that seeing the statue prompted them to pray for Mr. Webster’s return.

“I hope it helps,” Louis Nicholas of Sterling said as he sipped coffee at the bakery shortly before the news was announced. “I’m hoping the kid’s still alive, but it doesn’t sound good.” 

Mr. Webster’s family said earlier yesterday they continued to hope for the return of his body for a proper burial. Gerardo Sarli, Mr. Webster’s uncle, said he was surprised when the statue arrived and was pleased that he would be allowed to display it in the bakery until his nephew was brought home.

Mr. Frat’Antonio said he chose to bring the statue to Gerardo’s Italian Bakery because he sees his longtime friend as “the St. Joseph of his family,” protecting them and looking out for his numerous relatives.

In Westboro District Court on Monday, Mr. Howze was arraigned on charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (knife) and larceny of a motor vehicle. He was ordered held in lieu of $1 million bail and reacted by raising the middle fingers of his handcuffed hands at Mr. Webster’s family when they applauded the judge’s decision.

Ms. Cori was arraigned on charges of armed robbery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, larceny of a motor vehicle and armed assault with intent to murder. She is being held without bail pending the outcome of a dangerousness hearing scheduled for tomorrow. She had been indicted last week.

In court, a prosecutor said Ms. Cori asked another inmate in New York, where she was awaiting extradition to Massachusetts, whether she could be charged with murder if police did not find a body. She allegedly told the woman that she and Mr. Howze had made Mr. Webster disappear. She also allegedly asked if she could be charged with car theft if she was only a passenger.

The pair is believed to have been running a prostitution ring in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Ms. Casella said. Authorities said Ms. Cori appears to have been using an Internet advertising site to promote herself, using the name Mercedes, as a $60 escort who does parties and overnights in the Westboro area. Both she and Mr. Howze have criminal records. She has a history of using aliases and he has a history of drug offenses. 

Mr. Webster’s family characterized him as a helpful teenager whose autism made him a trusting person. Mr. Sarli has said he believes Mr. Howze and Ms. Cori took advantage of his nephew’s kind-hearted nature, luring him into an unsafe situation.

He has said he hopes they are prosecuted, found guilty and spend the rest of their lives in jail.

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