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Elderly Motel Employee Fatally Attacked by Naked Army Veteran

Army veteran Stephen Andrew Carreiro is being held without bail in the fatal attack of motel employee Lalitaben Patel. (Photo courtesy of Tracy Police Department)
  • United States

    A 62-year-old employee at the Hacienda Inn in Tracy, Calif., was raped and fatally attacked the evening of July 7 by a naked Army veteran, who also allegedly attacked the victim’s 82-year-old mother.

    Funeral services were held July 12 for Lalitaben Patel, a native of Surat, Gujarat, who had lived in the U.S. since 1986. The widowed woman had been working at her brother Champak Patel’s hotel for several years.

    According to police reports, Tracy police received several 911 calls reporting that a naked man was assaulting women at the Hacienda Inn in downtown Tracy. Officers arriving at the scene found two people attempting to subdue the suspect, who was later identified as Stephen Andrew Carreiro, 25. 

    Officers took Carreiro into custody, and then found Patel, who was immediately transported to Sutter-Tracy Community Hospital and later pronounced dead. Patel’s mother, who is not being named, was declared medically stable and returned to her family, Tracy Police Captain John Espinoza told India-West.

    Carreiro was arraigned July 8 and is being held without bail at the San Joaquin County Jail. He is charged with homicide, elder abuse, rape with a foreign object, sodomy, burglary and resisting arrest, and faces life in prison or the death penalty if convicted of all charges.

    Espinoza said officers arrived at a “horrific scene” with copious amounts of blood on both the victim and the suspect’s bodies. He would not say what weapons were found at the scene, but confirmed that there were gunshot wounds, though not on whose body.

    Asked whether Carreiro – who had been released from the Army a couple of years earlier — had been drinking or taking drugs, Espinoza said police were waiting for the coroner’s report before making such a determination. The coroner’s report may be issued within a few days, he added.

    Roger Patel, a family friend who is managing the motel while the family grieves for Lalitaben, said the deceased Indian American woman was “the quietest woman I have ever known.” Lalitaben was an observer, he said, noting her kind and gentle nature.

    Lalitaben Patel loved to cook, especially her native Gujarati dishes, said Roger Patel, noting that her favorite dish to make was sakhroli, a Gujarati sweet. Lalitaben came to work for her brother after the death of her husband, he said.

    Jermaine Haynes, a motel resident who came upon the gruesome scene, told CBS13 that Lalitaben Patel daily cleaned all the rooms at the motel.

    Carreiro had knocked on Haynes’ door earlier in the evening, saying he was selling candy. “He was on like cloud 20. I don’t know what he was on, but he was on something though,” said the motel resident.

    Haymes turned him away, but shortly afterwards Carreiro started breaking windows of motel rooms, but then disappeared. Haynes and others tracked him down to the manager’s apartment and kicked down the window to enter the blood-splattered scene.

    Haynes and others were able to restrain Carreiro until police arrived. “All the dude kept saying was like, ‘I didn’t do nothing. I didn’t do nothing.’ He was like out of his mind, delirious,” Haynes told CBS13.

    Two days earlier, 84-year-old Hazel Dingman was fatally attacked in her home in Stockton, Calif. But Espinoza told India-West police were not establishing links between the two cases since the cities are about 25 miles apart.

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