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Crime News Murders

Woman Accused of Killing Elderly Roommate Allegedly Doused Herself with Mountain Dew to Wash Off DNA

When police told Nichole Maks they were going to test her DNA after her roommate was found dead, she allegedly asked for a drink and then poured Mountain Dew all over her body and hair.

By Grace Jidoun
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

A Florida woman has been arrested for allegedly killing her elderly roommate and authorities believe she attempted to cover up DNA evidence by dousing herself with Diet Mountain Dew.

Nichole Maks, a 35-year-old Daytona Beach resident, was charged with first-degree murder, tampering with evidence, and resisting arrest with violence in the stabbing death of Michael Cerasoli. Maks has pleaded not guilty to the charges. She was booked on August 5 and remains in custody at Volusia County Jail without bond.

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On July 1, police responded to a house fire on Clark St. and found 79-year-old Cerasoli unresponsive in a smoldering bedroom with multiple stab wounds on his torso and blunt-force trauma to the back of the head, according to an arrest affidavit cited by CBS Miami and NBC affiliate WESH 2.

Authorities say the upstairs floor of the two-story home was ablaze, and a bloody knife was found near his body. Cerasoli was pronounced dead at the scene.

A mugshot of Nichole Maks

After the landlord reportedly told authorities that Cerasoli had a roommate, police searched the home. Maks became a prime suspect when her cell phone turned up on a windowsill with yet another knife on top of it, the affidavit states.

When detectives tracked down Maks outside of a restaurant in Holly Hill, Florida, early in the morning on July 2, she allegedly dropped a knife and hammer when they approached her. Police described her as disoriented and shoeless, with blood on her leg, according to WESH 2. Authorities say she gave conflicting stories about where she lived and that she became agitated when asked about the fire, refusing to cooperate without a lawyer.

When police told Maks they had a warrant and would test her DNA, she allegedly requested a drink and was given a Mountain Dew.

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Police stated in the affidavit that Maks dumped the soda all over her hair and body "in attempt to interfere with the possible evidence on [her body]" before it could be tested. Ultimately, detectives obtained a sample of her DNA and were able to match it to the DNA found on the handle of the knife found near the victim's body. The same knife contained DNA from the victim on its blade. 

Cerasoli’s neighbors told Orlando TV station Fox 35 that they feel unsettled since he was found dead.

One neighbor, Rachel Belerius, says she doesn’t feel comfortable letting her 4-year-old daughter outside. “We try to just keep the doors locked and stay inside. It’s not a good neighborhood,” Belerius told Fox 35.

Another neighbor, Melhem Farhad, told Fox 35 that he stopped going out with his son. "It’s scary when you know it happened next door," he said. "Really, we’re not living here anymore, we’re just staying, I guess. And that’s very sad."

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