Arrest in 2015 bludgeoning death of McDonald's millionaire's wife

Lois Colley

CBSN

Last Updated Nov 13, 2017 3:51 PM EST

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. -- Investigators have arrested a former day laborer in the 2015 slaying of the wife of a millionaire McDonald's franchise owner, according to the Westchester County District Attorney's office.

Esdras Marroquin Gomez has been arrested in the Nov. 9, 2016 bludgeoning death of Lois Colley, 83, who was killed on her sprawling New York estate, Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino Jr. said Monday. Colley was the wife of Eugene Colley, who amassed a fortune in a growing empire of more than 100 McDonald's franchises.

A caretaker found Colley's body in the laundry room at the 300-acre estate known as Windswept Farm in North Salem, an affluent town about 60 miles from New York City. She had been beaten to death with a fire extinguisher, Scarpino said. There were no signs that anyone had forced their way into the home, according to the station.  

Scarpino said Gomez had once worked as a day laborer at the estate and was involved in some kind of dispute with the Colley family, possibly over money. He said it's possible Gomez went to the home to speak with someone else when he confronted Colley.

"The murder scene was horrendous," Scarpino said. "From our evaluation, we believe the murder weapon was a home fire extinguisher, she was brutally assaulted with that."

Officials said Monday that Gomez, an undocumented immigrant, fled in the days after the slaying to Guatemala. He stayed there for a short time before he left that country and went to Mexico, Scarpino said.

Mexican authorities were in the process of deporting him back to Guatemala when his flight stopped in Miami last Tuesday and Gomez was taken into custody by U.S. officials. 

Gomez was charged with murder last year under an indictment that was unsealed Monday. Scarpino wouldn't detail when or how Gomez was developed as a suspect. He also wouldn't say whether there was any physical evidence from the scene linking Gomez to the crime or whether Gomez made any admissions to investigators. 

Scarpino alluded to witnesses that were aiding the case, but wouldn't provide details.

"Our case is going to be based on people assisting us, and we prefer not to take steps to drive them further underground," Scarpino said.

Scarpino said Gomez wasn't arrested earlier because investigators were trying to find him.

Scarpino said some members of the Colley family were at Gomez's arraignment Monday. He said the family thanked law enforcement for their efforts in finding Gomez.