Beatrice Ortiz is arraigned in Lynn District Court on a murder charge. Beside her is her attorney, Michael Phelan. (Paula Muller )
Local Crime, News, Police/Fire

Lynn Police say surveillance video shows fatal stabbing, suspect arraigned

LYNN — Beatrice Ortiz, 34, was arrested and charged with murder on Monday night after police said surveillance video from a Union Street business showed her allegedly plunging a steak knife into the chest of Charles Stankiewicz Jr. during a physical altercation. 

The account was confirmed by two witnesses, during separate police interviews. One witness was involved in the fight between the victim and murder suspect, according to a police report obtained at Lynn District Court. 

The assault later became a homicide when Stankiewicz, 36, of Lynn, was pronounced dead at Salem Hospital. He was found lying in the street between two cars near 110 Union St. and was taken from the scene with a knife still sticking out of his chest, according to the report. 

Ortiz was arrested at her Lynn home by Lynn Police, the Essex State Police Detective Unit and the Violent Fugitive Apprehension Unit, and was arraigned in Lynn District Court Tuesday, where she pleaded not guilty and was held without bail. 

"From my review of the documents that I've seen so far, she has a very strong self-defense case," said Michael Phelan, Ortiz's defense attorney. "She's in absolute shock at the charges coming in. If you look at her record, she has some charges, but they're minor. She's never been, at any time, in custody whatsoever, so it's overwhelming to have this type of charge against you." 

As Ortiz was being led from the courtroom following her arraignment, a woman, who refused to identify herself or talk to reporters, shouted at the suspect, "I hope you (expletive) rot, you (expletive) piece of (expletive)," before taking off.

Jonathan Sanchez, 30, the victim's cousin, described Stankiewicz as an "outgoing, good-hearted person," whose personality made him special. Unlike what was originally reported by prosecutors, Sanchez said his cousin was not homeless at the time of the incident, which the Essex County District Attorney's Office confirmed on Tuesday. 

"People in the community, they know him," said Sanchez. "(I want to) thank the Lynn Police for doing their job and getting her quick." 

According to the police report, video obtained from Empanada's Market showed Ortiz and Stankiewicz arguing. At one point, after the victim said something to Ortiz, she shoved him into the street and Stankiewicz then threw a full soda can at her, but missed. 

The video then allegedly shows Stankiewicz going after Ortiz and punching her while grabbing the back of her neck and trying to force her through a window. At that time, another man, whom The Item is choosing not to identify, tried to intervene and started to punch Stankiewicz, according to court documents. 

The man told police in an interview later that he felt he needed to defend the woman when he saw her getting punched. When he started to hit Stankiewicz, the man said he heard the woman, later identified as Ortiz, say "I'll stab you," according to court documents. 

The next thing the man said he saw was the victim drop in the street between parked cars with his eyes rolled back, but he didn't see a knife or the attack. A younger man then went up to Stankiewicz and robbed him while he was unconscious, according to the man's statement in the police report. 

Video surveillance allegedly shows a steak knife fall from Ortiz's pants pocket onto the sidewalk while the man is punching Stankiewicz. Footage shows her then allegedly pick up the knife and plunge it into Stankiewicz's chest. The victim is then seen going after Ortiz before collapsing out of the camera's view, according to court documents. 

Another witness, a man The Item is also choosing not to identify, told the police he witnessed the altercation leading up to the stabbing, but did not see the fatal assault occur. He was outside 110 Union where he went to buy heroin and later heard an argument in the hallway. He told the man and woman to take the argument outside, witnessed their fight and saw the other man intervene, according to court documents. 

He told police he gave the other man a congratulatory "fist bump" for intervening on behalf of the woman, but didn't realize until later that Stankiewicz had been stabbed. He told police he saw the woman pick up the knife and that it could have only been her who stabbed the victim, rather than the other man involved in the altercation, according to court documents. 

Both Ortiz and Stankiewicz have a criminal record, according to the Lynn District Court docket. Stankiewicz was last arrested two weeks ago on shoplifting charges. Although he has a record in Lynn going back to 2002, his offenses were not violent in nature, and included mainly theft and shoplifting offenses, court documents show. 

Ortiz has been arrested multiple times on charges including vandalism, assault and battery, and prostitution, according to court documents. 

Ortiz returns to court on Sept. 23 for a probable cause hearing.

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