Woman sentenced after using obituaries to burglarize homes in Westchester County

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, New York (WABC) -- A burglar who targeted Westchester County homes as families attended funerals will serve at least 11 years for her crimes.

Latonia Shelecia Stewart, of the Bronx, learned her fate at sentencing Monday morning, after being found guilty last month of burglarizing six homes as the victims attended funerals for loved ones.

Her victims were all elderly -- 75 and over -- who were at funerals for their longtime spouses.

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She stole jewelry, mementos, and precious heirlooms with sentimental value.

Victim impact statements were read prior to sentencing, but the victims themselves declined to speak.

"I cannot understand how someone can be so heartless and cruel," prosecutor Stefanie Denise read from one of them. "She has no soul, no conscience. The pain she has caused me to this day will never go away."

Stewart also did not speak or show remorse, declining to take accountability.

The lack of any sort of compassion stunned Judge David Zuckerman.

"I can't imagine the pain this must have caused," he said.

She was sentenced to 10 years for the six burglaries, and the judge then tacked on 1-3 years for criminal possession of stolen property.

She was given 10 years for each burglary, but the judge ruled the sentences can be served concurrently.

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Stewart still faces similar charges in Connecticut for two burglaries there.

The burglaries happened between 2017 and 2018 at homes in Rye Brook, Cortlandt, Scarsdale, Irvington, Ossining, and Tarrytown.

Stewart used online obituaries to pick her targets, breaking in and stealing jewelry, silverware, and other valuables.

"It is absolutely appalling that people mourning the loss of a loved one were specifically targeted and taken advantage of in such a cruel and heinous manner," Westchester County District Attorney Miriam Rocah said. "I commend the great work of my team, the Greenburgh Police Department, and the other law enforcement partners who handled this case, and I hope that this verdict brings some measure of comfort to the victims."

When police arrested Stewart in May 2018, they located some of the stolen property and tools used during the burglaries.

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