Is There a Connection Among Three Police Investigations in Wilkes-Barre?

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- Police in Wilkes-Barre and the Luzerne County District Attorney's Office have not said whether or not a homicide investigation, a fire on Maffett Street, and a missing child case are connected, but the location and timing of the incidents suggest they could be.

Wilkes-Barre police were on Donald Court in the city Friday morning investigating the stabbing death of Fred Boote.

Hours later, in another part of south Wilkes-Barre, police were called to an intentionally set fire in an apartment building's common area on Maffett Street.

Then came word from police that a man was wanted for illegally taking a 14-year-old girl from that same street.

Police found Reynaldo Mercado, 31, and that teen, Alex Reyes, in New Jersey Saturday.

Investigators won't say anything about any possible connection. However, Newswatch 16 has found some possible links between the two cases.

According to court papers, Mercado lives at 99 Maffett Street. Police in Wilkes-Barre have not said whether or not he is a suspect in an incident that took place Friday next door at 95 Maffett Street that could be related to Boote's death investigation.

According to a search warrant, investigators found clothing and shoes inside a common area of the apartment building that they believe were intentionally set on fire. The shoes found burning had a similar pattern to the footprints found at Boote's home on Donald Court. Those shoes were found burning inside the apartment building next to Mercado's.

According to search warrants, Boote's body was found in his home on Donald Court. His cell phone was found on Willow Street. Then detectives found evidence at an apartment building on Maffett Street that could be connected to Boote's death.

Boote's obituary says he had a 30-year career in auto financing. Most recently, he was an Uber driver. His obituary says he was known for his meticulous lawn and welcoming nature.

Mercado is in custody in New Jersey for his involvement in the missing child case. Police have not said whether or not he is a suspect in Boote's death.

Police have said all three incidents--Boote's death, the fire on Maffett Street, and the missing child--are all still under investigation.

A funeral service for Fred Boote is set for Wednesday at 10 a.m. at St. Robert Bellarmine Church, Barney and Division streets, Wilkes-Barre. Visitation is Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Daniel J. Hughes Funeral & Cremation Service, 617 Carey Avenue, Wilkes-Barre.