NEWARK, NJ - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today joined the parents of James Malfetti III in expressing deep concern about how local authorities in the U.S. Virgin Islands have handled the Scotch Plains man's murder investigation. The Senator renewed his call for greater involvement by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
"It seems more and more apparent to me that local law enforcement is incapable of conducting a proper and thorough investigation," said Sen. Menendez. "The FBI simply playing a supporting role isn't cutting it. It's time the Bureau takes the lead in this case to better ensure the Malfetti family gets justice for their son."
Last month, Sen. Menendez sent a letter asking FBI Director James B. Comey to provide investigative assistance to Malfetti's parents, James, Sr. and Rosemary, who had claimed Virgin Island law enforcement failed to perform a meaningful investigation into their son's murder.
"After the unthinkable death of their son, the last thing any parent needs is a hostile and uninterested law enforcement response," Sen. Menendez wrote in the February 6, 2014 letter. "I am deeply troubled by reports that the police treated a grieving mother and father as a nuisance to be ignored. Law enforcement officers cannot promise a successful investigation, but the family deserves a competent investigation."
Members of Sen. Menendez's senior staff have since been in direct contact with USVI Governor John de Jongh, who has personally assured the Senator that the FBI is currently assisting in the case. Staff has also been in contact with the FBI, who has indicated that local authorities are taking the lead. However, the family continues to be denied basic information and updates in the ongoing investigation by the local police.
"The loss of our only child has left a gaping hole in our hearts, but we can't stop to grieve because we have to find whoever did this to our son," said Rosemary Malfetti. "We don't want any other family to go through what we are going through."
Malfetti III was killed January 18, 2014 during a home invasion robbery on St. John, USVI, yet his parents reported that the police failed to perform a routine or reasonable investigation. They stated that police officers failed to perform basic forensic tests, misstated obvious facts, failed to notify them when their son was discovered, and even threatened to deemphasize the investigation if the parents continued to call. In addition, the Malfettis said investigators failed to follow up on critical evidence discovered two weeks ago.
"The Justice Department established an independent monitor for the U.S. Virgin Island's police department several years ago because of cases of demonstrated misconduct and poor case management," said U.S. Rep. Rush Holt. "Thus far, despite repeated inquiries from my office, the independent monitor has not engaged on this case, which makes it all the more imperative for the FBI to step in. The Malfetti family deserves answers and they deserve justice."
"This police response seems completely unacceptable," Sen. Menendez said. "It raises serious questions about the police force's professionalism and its impact on public safety in the USVI."
The family has started a Facebook page, Justice for Jimmy Malfetti, to bring awareness to the case. A $25,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the capture and conviction of Malfetti's killer. Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
April 22, 2021