A man in Rhode Island who admitted he killed his 66-year-old grandmother by tying a trash bag over her head and smothering her with a pillow with the help of his girlfriend before pawning her jewelry for heroin was sentenced to 60 years in prison.
Raymond Paiva IV, 30, learned his fate on Tuesday in the 2017 murder of Eudora Gustafson. Paiva pleaded guilty last month to one count of murder, one count of conspiracy to commit murder, four counts of receiving stolen goods less than $1,500, two counts of forgery, and one count of obtaining property under false pretenses, prosecutors said in a news release.
Gustafson was killed Feb. 10, 2017, as Paiva was at his grandparents’ home on Sowams Drive in Bristol. Prosecutors said he had recently used heroin and wanted money to buy more. So that afternoon, around 3:15 p.m., when Paiva’s grandfather left the house for work, leaving Eudora Gustafson alone in the first-floor living room, he attacked her.
He got the keys to her car, covered her head with a trash bag, tied it and smothered her with a pillow, authorities said. He took her rings and jewelry from a bedroom safe, half-dollar coins, and her checkbook before taking off in her car, prosecutors said. He tried to cash a check from her checkbook at a bank but was unsuccessful. He pawned his grandmother’s jewelry in Providence, where he bought heroin.
He and his girlfriend were arrested after a police chase ended when Paiva lost control of his grandmother’s 1997 Hyundai Accent and hit a snowbank, the Providence Journal reported. Police shot the couple, wounding them before they were jailed. A local police chief said then that circumstances led to an unspecified threat to the officers, and they discharged their firearms. Police said that Paiva and his girlfriend were not armed.
Paiva was hit several times. His girlfriend was struck once, the newspaper reported.
From his hospital bed, Paiva admitted to the killing, saying, “We strangled her. Both of us. Me and Selena,” Springfield, Mass., NBC/CW affiliate WWLP reported, citing an affidavit.
His defense attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Law&Crime.
The case for Paiva’s girlfriend, Selena Martinez, is pending in Providence County Superior Court. She has a court hearing on Oct. 23. Her defense attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Law&Crime.
The victim’s husband, Mark Gustafson, told ABC New Bedford, Mass., affiliate WLNE when charges were filed that he found his wife dead and suspected Paiva had killed her.
“She tried to help him out the best that she could, and obviously, he did not want the help,” he said, the station reported. “He was into drugs, so obviously, it is money-related there.
“I lost the love of my life,” he added.
Gustafson’s fundraising page called her a beautiful person with a huge heart and warm soul.
“She was extremely generous and loving and will be missed greatly by all who have known her,” the site said.
Her obituary said Gustafson was among the first women to volunteer for the Bristol Rescue Squad over 30 years ago. She responded to calls until an illness forced her to stop volunteering. She also worked as a nursing assistant at several nursing homes.
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