ROCKLAND COUNTY — A man accused of killing a pregnant mother of six at a convenience store has been charged in her murder.
Jason Mendez, 35, was indicted on one count of murder and seven counts of attempted murder, nearly one week after he allegedly hit the mother and her family outside a convenience store after words were exchanged about his smoking.
Melissa Castillo DeLoatch, 32, of Stony Point shielded her youngest child, a girl in a stroller, last Wednesday afternoon in Haverstraw, police said. Her husband and the children, ages 11 months to 10 years, were treated at area hospitals.
Her husband, Sean DeLoatch, had argued with Mendez after telling him not to smoke in front of the children as the family entered the store, police said.
Mendez then “intentionally drove his vehicle across the parking lot of the 7-Eleven store … into a family of eight persons standing on the sidewalk out front,” according to the felony complaint. “After striking this family with his vehicle, Mendez reversed backwards approximately 20 feet, put his car into drive, and drove forward over the members of the family a second time.”
The defendant then tried to flee. When two police officers stopped him, he got out and menaced them with a razor blade, the complaint said. They repeatedly ordered him to drop it then used a stun gun on him.
An email requesting comment was sent to Mendez’s attorney on Monday. A grand jury is scheduled to hear the evidence on Tuesday at the Rockland County Courthouse in New City, said Stephen Moore, executive assistant district attorney.
“She would give you the shirt off her back; she would give you her last piece of bread,” her mother, Joan Christopher, told the Journal News . “When it came to her children, she protected them and did everything for them.”
“I’m just completely lost without her,” said DeLoatch’s brother, Ryan Christopher. “I don’t understand it. She was the most caring person in the world.”
Mendez faces a maximum sentence of 25-years to life in state prison.
“This is a horrifying case of a total stranger running down a defenseless family, leaving the mother dead,” Rockland County District Attorney Kevin Gilleece said. “His actions should result in him spending the rest of his life in prison.”
A funeral will be held Thursday for DeLoatch at St. Ann’s Church in Nyack.