MELBOURNE, Fla. - Investigators say three children were home when their father brutally beat his ailing mother to death, then dismembered her body in a ditch.
Brevard County deputies said it's unclear what the children knew about the crime, but said Francis "Frank" Riccio, 45, is under arrest in New York for premeditated murder.
Deputies said 70 year-old Maureen Riccio's body sat in the house at 319 Patrick Circle in Melbourne for at least a day before her son chopped her up and dumped her body in garbage bags and tossed her on the side of the road some 20 miles away in the town of Micco.
For about a month, neighbors said the house sat empty with no signs of the gruesome murder.
Detectives believe Riccio beat his mother to death -- possibly with a hammer -- after one of their many fights.
"He said she's kind of schizophrenic, she flipped out here and there. He was talking about how he wanted to send her back up north," said Richard Lucas, who lives next door. "I kind of thought something was wrong about his momma, but I didn't know for sure."
Lucas said it seemed Riccio never wanted to take care of his ailing mother.
After a worker found the dismembered body, investigators zeroed in on Riccio because they said he never reported his mom missing. Detectives arrived at the home and inside, found a fresh coat of dark paint in a bedroom and the family gone.
Lucas recalls what his neighbor told him before suddenly leaving with his family weeks ago.
"He said he had a death in the family," said Lucas. "He had to go up north. He'll be back in a couple weeks."
Neighbors said Riccio seemed like a normal family man with a long-time girlfriend and their three children.
Deputies may charge his girlfriend for her help after the killing, but neighbors do not think anyone else was involved because Riccio seemed to frighten everyone in the family.
"He was a real strict person, kept to himself, real strict, kept everybody under control," said Lucas.
Deputies said they have not found the murder weapon or what was used to dismember her body, but plan to search an area soon.
Riccio is said to be cooperating with investigators, but deputies will not say whether he's confessed.
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