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Body identified in Monticello blaze; apartment booby-trapped


June 26, 2013

Monticello Police have positively identified the body that was found in the fire that took place on Monday 6/24/13 at 34 St. John street in the village of Monticello as Celestino “Dino” Valverde, age 53.

Valverde’s body was located on the first floor of the building after firefighters had extinguished a fire that had heavily damaged the 3-story building. An autopsy performed Monday evening showed that Valverde had died of a self-inflicted gunshot to his head prior to the fire. A legally owned shotgun was recovered from next to the body.

An investigation also showed that the fire had been intentionally set in the building with an accelerant. The only entrance into Valverdes apartment also had been purposely barricaded from the inside. A 2x6 board had been nailed to the floor and butted up against the door to prevent fire fighters and police officers from accessing entry to the building.

Ammunition had also been purposely placed around Valverde’s apartment in a way that had been meant to explode during the fire. Three long guns and a large quantity of ammunition were recovered from the scene. Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire before the ammunition exploded.

Interviews of persons familiar with Valverde showed that Valverde was extremely depressed over recently losing his building as a result of unpaid taxes.

Monticello police were assisted in the investigation by the New York Sate Police Forensic Investigation Unit (F.I.U.), Sullivan County District Attorney Office and fire investigators from the Sullivan County Bureau of Fire.