ONEONTA — State police said the alleged murder of a 53-year-old Worcester man last week may have been motivated by robbery.
Troopers responded to a fire on Head Road in the town of Worcester on Thursday, Oct. 10. A body was visible through the front door of the residence, which was open when first responders arrived, according to Capt. Scott Heggelke of the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
The victim, identified as Kenneth W. Robinson, suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was dead before the fire began, Heggelke said at a news conference Monday, Oct. 14, at the New York State Police station in Oneonta.
Nicolas Meridy, 32, of Oneonta, was arrested Friday with two 15-year-olds and a 17-year-old, whose names have not been released, and charged with second-degree murder and first-degree burglary. A fifth underage suspect was arrested over the weekend and charged with first-degree burglary, but not murder, Heggelke said.
Identifying information on the underage suspects is being withheld under New York’s Raise the Age law, Heggelke said, but he confirmed a familial relationship between Robinson and one of the suspects.
The fire was set intentionally in one of the back bedrooms, Heggelke said.
Two of the victim’s children were home at the time of the fire, but escaped unharmed, according to Heggelke. The investigation has not yet determined if they were present when Robinson was shot.
Several shotguns and rifles were found during the course of the investigation, according to Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl. Investigators believe four of the five suspects were armed when they entered the residence.
Troopers responded to a domestic incident at the residence in January involving Robinson, but none of the suspects was involved, according to Aga Dembinksa, Troop C public information officer.
Three of the suspects were apprehended in Oneonta and two in Downsville, Heggelke said. Two are being held at a detention facility in Syracuse and two in Buffalo. Meridy is being held at the Otsego County Correctional Facility.
The youths are scheduled to appear Wednesday, Oct. 16, before Judge John F. Lambert in Otsego County Court in Cooperstown.
The investigation is continuing with the assistance of the state police Violent Crimes Unit and the Otsego County Sheriff’s Office.
Anyone with information related to the incident is asked to call Troop C headquarters at 607-561-7400.
Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.