The family of 75-year-old Evelyn “Evy” Udell is filing charges against Best Buy retailers after an associated delivery man assaulted and killed Udell.
It was reported on August 19 that the delivery man, Jorge Lachazo, transported and installed Udell’s new washer and dryer, and then assaulted her. He hit her over the head, rendering her unconscious, and then covered her body in acetone and lit her on fire.
Lachazo’s delivery companion, David Gonzalez, reportedly waited outside during the delivery and was not involved in Udell’s assault. Lachazo then made a getaway in the delivery van.
When Gonzalez realized what had happened inside the Udell house, he called 911.
Lachazo was found and arrested soon after he fled the Udell property and was taken into custody. Udell was taken to the hospital but died the following day. Lachazo was charged with the first-degree murder of Evelyn Udell on August 29 and is awaiting his arraignment.
The family has since begun the process of filing a lawsuit against Best Buy. The lawsuit filed Thursday deemed Best Buy legally responsible for Udell’s death, because they did not properly investigate the third-party delivery service they hired.
You can see the Udell family’s statement in the following video:
Udell believed that, in ordering her washer and dryer from Best Buy, she would be working with contractors who had to observe Best Buy’s policies, but this wasn’t the case.
Instead, Best Buy hired the transport company, J.B. Hunt, to organize the delivery. J.B. Hunt then contracted X.M. Delivery Service to complete the delivery.
Gonzalez and Lachazo were then assigned the delivery by X.M. Delivery Service, for whom they worked.
Nick Panagakis, the Udell family’s attorney, said of the incident:
“It’s scary that the place where we should be safest—our own home—is unfortunately a place of danger.”
Panagakis accused Best Buy on multiple counts and said they had a “reckless disregard” when it came to their hiring and contracting arrangements.
Panagakis also stated that companies needed to take responsibility for properly vetting their employees, and also ensuring that their contractor’s records of third-party employees remain up-to-date, as well.
He called many companies, including Best Buy’s neglect of this vetting process a “national epidemic.”
Panagakis concluded with:
“This has been going on for years. You either have to be operating with blinders on or you just know it and don’t care.”
Panagakis has also accused Best Buy of its involvement in severe emotional harm, as Evelyn Udell’s husband, Joel, has experienced “mental anguish and emotional distress” since her death. The family is seeking compensation in excess of $15,000, which has been included in their lawsuit, filed with the Palm Beach County Circuit Court.
Panagakis and the Udell family are also calling for improved legislation that requires in-depth and ongoing background checks and investigations of employees hired for in-home visits. The legislation is to include the required recurring check-up on all employees’ potential criminal activity for as long as they are employed.
Best Buy is being sued on multiple counts, including loss of consortium and negligence. J.B. Hunt, X.M. Delivery Delivery Service, and the two Best Buy employees who were involved in the contracting of Gonzalez and Lachazo, are also included in the lawsuit.
Jorge Lachazo admitted during the police investigation that he was using cocaine and marijuana. He was arrested for theft in 2018 and had a series of traffic—and driving—related charges already on his record. He admitted to using drugs earlier in the day, prior to the delivery and assault.
According to the police report, Udell suffered from multiple skull and facial fractures, severe brain trauma and bleeding, and second- and third-degree burns all over her body.
Any other motivations Lachazo may have had for harming Udell, beyond drug-use, remain unclear.