Widow of slain man drove accused killer to train station

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Anderson Pereira, 42, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Zakhia Charabaty, 52, of Manchester. Photo/Pat Grossmith

MANCHESTER, NH –The widow of a murdered Manchester man was caught deleting emails from her joint account with the man accused of killing her husband while she was being interviewed by police inside the Lawrence, Mass., police station, according to court testimony.

Flavia Deoliveira, widow of murder victim Zakhia Charabaty, 52, of 245 Pasture Drive, was interviewed by Lawrence, Mass. police in 2020 at the same time as her former lover and accused murderer Anderson Pereira, 42, formerly of 142 Pleasant Valley St., Methuen, Mass., was under interrogation.

Pereira, who is charged with first-degree murder and two counts of falsifying physical evidence in the killing of Charabaty is seeking bail in Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District.

Judge N. William Delker, presiding in Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District, took the issue of bail under advisement.

Defense attorney Richard C. Guerriero Jr. elicited the information about the deleted emails from lead investigator Manchester Police Detective Brian O’Leary, the final witness.  On Friday, it was the fifth day of testimony in the hearing in which Pereira was seeking to be released from jail on bail.

Deoliveira also testified, under the grant of immunity and through a Portuguese interpreter, testified earlier in the proceedings.

Family members reported Charabaty missing in March 2020.  His body was found in July 2020 in Methuen. They said Charabaty hadn’t shown for work at Cedar’s Mediterranean Foods in Haverhill, Mass., on March 13, 2020, which was out of character for him.

Brian O’Leary, lead investigator in the 2020 murder of Zakhia Charbaty testifies at a bail hearing for the accused, Anderson Pereira, 42, of Methuen, Mass. Photo/Pat Grossmith

O’Leary, under questioning by Guerriero, agreed that while Deoliveira was being questioned, a Lawrence police detective with IT expertise simultaneously was examining Pereira’s cell phone.  As he did, emails began to disappear from it.

He went to the interview room to tell detectives that he believed Deoliveira, while being interviewed by them, was deleting items on an account she had access to that was on Pereira’s cell phone.

Deoliveira has not been charged with any crime in connection with the incident.

O’Leary said Pereira, after his second police interview, fled “essentially with the clothes on his back,” cutting communication with family and friends after talking with investigations.

Deoliveira drove him to the train station.

She asked him what happened to her husband, O’Leary said.

“He told her she’s better off not knowing,” O’ Leary said.

Pereira was arrested in October 2021 in Kissimmee, Fla., on first-degree murder. He also is charged with two counts of falsifying physical evidence.

The defense contends Deoliveira has a motive to protect her son who had an argument with Charabaty a week to 10 days before he disappeared.

Prosecutors said Deoliveira and Pereira were lovers for many years and that she had lived with him.  However, in November 2019, she left him and moved in with Charabaty who she married in January 2020.  They were married for two months when he went missing on March 12, 2020

Charabaty kicked Deoliveira’s son Gabriel out of the house and the two went to stay with Pereira in Methuen.

Assistant Attorney General Peter R. Hinckley said Deoliveiria and Charabaty reconciled on March 12, 2020, the last time anyone had contact with him.  Investigators confirmed through a hundred pages of texts between them that they had reconciled, he said. She and her son were to return home the following day, March 13, 2020.

O’Leary, under questioning from Assistant New Hampshire Attorney General Meghan Carly Hagaman, said family members tracked Charabaty’s Apple watch to Lawrence, Mass.  Lawrence Police, he said, on March 14, 2020, found Charabaty’s white box truck containing his personal property.

The last contact with Charabaty, he said, occurred about 9:30 p.m. on March 12, 2020.  He was home alone and in a text with his wife, said he was going to bed.  His body was recovered on July 9, 2020, behind a commercial building at 145 Milk St. in Methuen, Mass.

He was clothed in a T-shirt and pajama bottoms, and wrapped in a fitted bed sheet with ropes wrapped around his waist.   An autopsy determined his death to be a homicide by violence by unknown means because of the level of decomposition, O’Leary said.

Detectives viewed numerous videos, taken by businesses and residents’ home surveillance systems.  On one, recorded about 11 p.m. on March 12, 2020, a lone subject is dropped off on Donald Street and is recorded walking towards Charabaty’s residence.    A little after 1 a.m., March 13, 2020, his truck is recorded leaving the residence.  One of the rear doors is ajar.

At 1:20 p.m., the truck drives into the parking lot at Market Basket in Bedford. Investigators traced his cell phone there at that time as well.  The driver gets out of the truck, walks to the store, which is closed, returns to the rear of the truck and then gets back in the driver’s seat and leaves.  Investigators last track the phone to I-93 at the border of Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Video taken in Methuen at 1:55 a.m. on March 13, 2020, records an individual getting out of a white box truck, like Charabaty’s, behind Home Depot. That person goes to the dumpster and throws items into it.  The driver then throws an item on the ground, smashes it and then tosses it into nearby woods.

By the time investigators recovered that video, the dumpster already was emptied.  Police recovered the item that was tossed.  It was Charabaty’s cell phone which was heavily damaged.

The Home Depot, O’Leary said, was about a 15-minute drive from the Longhorn Restaurant, where Pereira worked, and a four-minute drive from his apartment.

At 2:30 a.m., on March 13, 2020, the truck is parked behind the building and a person is seen walking away from it.

An hour later, a dark SUV – consistent with Deoliveira’s – pulls up next to the truck.  Pereira, O’Leary said, is recorded on video inside the Home Depot buying a shovel and then leaving and putting it into the SUV.

On March 14, 2020, Charabaty’s cell phone is tracked to 29 South Canal St. in Lawrence, Mass.  A video recording at 1:30 am. on March 14, 2020, shows an individual opening a rear door on a box truck, taking items out of it and then throwing things in a dumpster.  The person is recording wiping the floor of the truck.

He is later seen walking to South Union and Merrimack streets in Lawrence where he gets in an Uber.

Samples of red-brown stains, taken from the rear of the truck, test positive for Charabaty’s DNA.   License plates for the truck were recovered in the canal.  Red-brown stains, on the passenger side, do not test positive.

Charabaty’s body was found buried behind 96-A Milk St., a 10-minute walk from where Pereira lived.

Zakhia Charabaty

Video surveillance from 145 Milk St., across the street, recorded Pereira parking the SUV, going to the cargo area and grabbing a shovel and a bag. O’Leary said he is off-camera for several minutes but later returns to the vehicle without the bag or shovel.  He gets back into the SUV and drives away.

O’Leary said he identified Pereira from the video because by the time investigators received the video, he had already seen him.

At 1:06 a.m., the truck is moved from behind Home Depot and later is recorded at the 96A-96B Milk St. location.

Pereira twice was interviewed by detectives.  He said he never met Charabaty, had never been in Manchester until after Charabaty was reported missing and never killed anyone.

He denied he was in Lawrence on March 13 or 14; denied he bought a shovel or was picked up by an Uber.

Later, he told detectives Charabaty hired a hitman to kill him, that he paid him off and that the hitman then forced him to drive him around.

O’Leary said what he said just didn’t make sense.

After the second interview, Pereira left his job without giving notice.  O’Leary said he left with essentially the clothes on his back and stopped all communication with family and friends.

Under questioning from Guerriero, O’Leary said Pereira was not identified as the person seen walking early on March 13, 2020, on Pasture Drive or in the truck.

Charabaty’s wife identified Pereira on the Home Depot video from inside the store, O’Leary said, and he agreed that no witness identified Pereira from videos taken outdoors.

However, O’Leary said he identified Pereira as the driver exiting the SUV on video footage taken in the Milk Street area where Charabaty’s body was found.

Detective Adam Bergeron Rosa, in his report of the Market Basket video, indicated it appeared there was another person in the truck.  O’Leary said that was Rosa’s interpretation of the video but he said the video was grainy and he did not see that.

On March 16, 2020, investigators searched Charabaty’s home.  Blood was found in the tub and sink in a bathroom and in drains.  Detectives returned on July 24, 2020 for a second search, that time finding blood on the mattress in the primary bedroom.

O’Leary had no explanation as to why investigators hadn’t found the blood on the mattress in the initial search.  That sample tested presumptively for blood but was not conclusive, he said.

He said there was no DNA evidence linked to Pereira found in that search — no blood, fingerprints, hair or fibers connecting him to 245 Pasture Drive.

O’Leary said at one time Deoliveira’s son Gabriel was a suspect in the murder.  Asked where is he now, O’Leary said he didn’t know.

O’Leary said the son had threatened Charbaty during an argument.  “I was going to smash his face to make it more crooked than it already was,” he said, according to O’Leary.  That comment was made about 1 to 1 ½ weeks prior to March 12.

Gabriel, he said, was not charged.

O’Leary agreed that a financial motive is considered in a crime.   He testified that Charabaty had an insurance policy, but he did not know the amount or the beneficiary; did not have a copy of the policy; did not know Charabaty’s worth or the value of his property or who the beneficiary is.

Police filed a 24-page affidavit in support of Pereira’s arrest.  That document, however, is sealed.  The state wants it to continue to be sealed until Pereira is indicted.  Delker is expected to rule on whether to unseal the document.


Editor’s note: The headline on this story has been corrected from a previous version. We take errors seriously, make corrections quickly, and strive for accuracy but, alas, we are human. 


 

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pat-grossmith

Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.