West New York, NJ    A 14-year old Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania girl reported missing by her mother a week ago, was found unharmed on Saturday, September 15, 2018 at an undisclosed location in Hudson County by West New York Police.  Authorities say 31-year old Reynaldo Mercado, Jr. has been arrested and charged with one felony count of interfering with the custody of a minor.

   This case, however, is much deeper and sadder than the happy reunion of Alex Reyes with her mother Carmen Cardy. It involves the stabbing death of 58-year old Wilkes-Barre resident Fred J. Boote,  Jr., whose lifeless body was discovered by local police in his house on 14 Donald Court at approximately 4 a.m. on Friday, September 14.

    Police say shoes intentionally set on fire in an apartment building in South Wilkes-Barre later that afternoon had a pattern similar to shoe prints discovered at the scene of Boote’s stabbing.

   The crime scene indicated to police that a struggle had taken place. They believed Boote’s murderer attempted to set fire to the house before fleeing the scene.

   Several hours later, Wilkes-Barre firefighters responded to a blaze at 95 Maffet Street where they found clothing and shoes burning in the apartment building’s basement.  It was determined the fire was set deliberately and the shoes had a “similar” pattern to footprints discovered at the scene of Boote’s stabbing murder.

    A warrant signed by a judge permitted police to collect the clothes, shoes and other evidence which could possibly be connected to the murder scene discovered earlier that day.

    The fire scene was located directly next door to Mercado’s home.  Wilkes-Barre Police named Mercado as a suspect in Reyes’ disappearance on Friday night, hours after the gruesome murder of Boote.

   Working in collaboration with Pennsylvania authorities, West New York Police Director Bob Antolos said, “Reynaldo Mercado was arrested in West New York and West New York Police recovered the girl.  Mercado went to the Hudson County Jail on a fugitive warrant for murder.”

   Wilkes-Barre Police were led to Boote’s home when they found his dog wandering outside. The victim’s address was on the dog’s collar.  A blood-stained knife was found near the body along with a gasoline container.