A 21-year-old convicted felon accused of murdering a Manchester woman that he never met faced a judge on Tuesday.
The owner of an apartment at 52 Park St. called firefighters on Jan. 18 around 5 a.m. after smelling smoke in the building.
When firefighters arrived, they found the body of a 56-year-old woman in her bedroom in the third-floor apartment.
According to the arrest warrant, the woman died from blunt trauma to the head, which was most likely caused by a broken ashtray found at the scene. She also has two stab wounds to the neck.
Fire officials said the fire was knocked down quickly and it was contained to the third floor. The fire was ruled an arson, officials said.
Police arrested Steven R. Durdek Jr., of Manchester, on Friday in connection with arson and the death of the woman found at the Park Street apartment.
Court documents show Durdek climbed onto the roof and waited for the victim's son to leave. Police said he then slid through an unlocked window into her apartment.
Court documents also stated Durdek wrapped a blanket around her body and set her on fire with lighter fluid he found in the apartment. Police said Durdek was attempting to destroy any evidence.
Police said Durdek illegally entered the apartment, sexually assaulted the woman and caused her death. She tried to fight back swinging at the suspect with a statue, police said.
According to the arrest warrant, Durdek's DNA was found on the apartment door knob and the victim's body.
Because he's a convicted felon, police already had his DNA in its system, so they were able to make that match. Durdek however denies everything.
Police said Durdek told a friend that he felt "crazy" and lost control. Court documents stated "that he didn't know the victim" and "it was only going to be a burglary."
Even more unthinkable, police said Durdek later uploaded two disturbing photos of the victim to his Facebook page.
Durdek, who has two cases pending for larceny/burglary, was charged with felony murder, murder, first-degree arson, tampering with physical evidence and first-degree burglary.
Durdek, who was on probation at the time of the crime, was arraigned in Manchester Superior Court on Tuesday. Following his court appearance, he is being held on $2 million bond.
"He's guilty. They know it. We'll be there," family and friends of the victim shouted at court.
The victim's three adult children were present at the court proceedings.
"Nobody deserves to be treated like that," said a woman, who only wanted to be identified as Diane.
Friends of the suspect told Eyewitness News this is not the Steve Durdek Jr. they know.
"I was shocked to hear anything like this, not the person I know," said Luz Oyola. "He's really sweet, do anything for anyone."
"He's the greatest friend you could ever have, never selfish, always had your back," said Michael Serrano.
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