Murder suspect told police he strangled grandmother, sold rings for heroin

Documents reveal details about murder case that ended with a crash in Providence.
Documents reveal details about murder case that ended with a crash in Providence.

BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) — The man accused of murdering his grandmother last Friday told police he and his girlfriend strangled her, pawned her jewelry, and bought heroin, according to the arrest warrant affidavit from Bristol police.

Raymond Paiva IV, 24, and his girlfriend, Selena Martinez, 21, lived with Paiva’s grandmother Eudora Gustafson, who police allege was murdered in her Sowams Drive home.

The affidavit indicates Gustafson’s husband found her “on the couch with a pillow over her face.”

“Mr. Gustafson told police he removed the pillow and saw a white plastic garbage bag over her head,” the document stated. “And the drawstring tied tightly around Eudora’s neck.”

A brief chase with police came to a crashing end a few hours later on Branch Avenue where Providence police investigators say two officers shot and injured the suspects. The shooting remains under investigation.

Martinez is charged with possession of a stolen vehicle and receiving stolen goods. Paiva is charged with murder.

“We strangled her,” Paiva said from his hospital bed where he was arraigned according to the affidavit. “Both of us. Me and Selena.”

After the body was discovered, police would find Gustafson’s safe opened and indications that someone had gone through her purse.

According to the affidavit, Paiva admitted taking jewelry, coins, and other items from the safe and “removed three or four rings from his grandmother’s hands.”

Video surveillance near a Bristol bank later captured the suspects trying and failing to cash one of Gustafson’s personal checks.

From there they went to Providence, where Paiva told police the couple “picked up heroin” and went to India Point Park “where he and Selena did heroin, expecting to overdose.”

“Paiva stated he killed his grandmother because he was sick of her putting him down,” the document stated. “Paiva stated that he was suicidal and was planning on killing himself with a heroin overdose.”

The affidavit states the Medical Examiner’s office found signs of asphyxia, but a spokesman for the agency said the official cause of death is still pending.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.