Holyoke woman charged with murder in Granby man’s death 

  • Yiana Torres listens as her interpreter (middle) and lawyer, Jonah Goldsmith, talk during her arraignment in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Yiana Torres during her arraignment at Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown on Tuesday.  STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Yiana Torres listens as her interpreter (middle) and lawyer, Jonah Goldsmith, talk during her arraignment in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Yiana Torres stands with her interpreter, center, and lawyer, Jonah Goldsmith, during her arraignment Tuesday in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown on a charge of murder in the death of Reginald E. Sanford of Granby. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Yiana Torres with her interpreter (middle) and lawyer, Jonah Goldsmith, during her arraignment in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/21/2020 3:07:39 PM

BELCHERTOWN — A pair of bloody fingerprints left at an elderly man’s Granby home led police to arrest and charge a Holyoke woman for his killing.

Yiana M. Torres, 28, pleaded not guilty in Eastern Hampshire District Court on Tuesday to a charge of murder in the death Thursday of 84-year-old Reginald E. Sanford. Sanford was found dead in his 37 Pleasant St. home on Sunday with “severe lacerations and significant blood loss,” according to a police report obtained through court documents.

Sanford lived alone and it was almost three days after police believe he was killed before neighbors from across the street discovered his body during a well-being check and called police at around 10:40 a.m. on Sunday, police said.

When authorities arrived to check on the report of an unattended death, police observed that Sanford was the victim of an “obvious homicide,” according to court documents. During a search of his home, police reportedly found two fingerprint stains linked to Torres as well as a pair of women’s jeans covered with what appeared to be blood, court documents state.

Sanford’s car, which was missing from his home, was found abandoned in Holyoke. Police reviewed surveillance video from the area where the car was found and saw it traveling down an alleyway early Friday.

“A short time later, a woman that fits the description of Torres is observed exiting the alleyway,” the police report states.

After she was arrested in Holyoke on Monday, Torres, of 10 Spring St., allegedly admitted to stabbing Sanford during the course of an argument, according to court records. Torres has a history of violent crimes, according to the police report, including incidents that involved “cutting instruments.”

The investigation into the death is still ongoing, Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Matthew Thomas said after Torres’ court appearance. Asked what connection authorities believe Torres had with Sanford, or whether she was the only suspect in his death, Thomas declined to answer, citing the ongoing investigation.

“We don’t have any reason to believe the public is presently at risk,” Thomas said.

Thomas also said the evidence is expected to be presented to a grand jury.

Torres was represented by attorney Jonah Goldsmith and was held without the right to bail. Judge William Rooney agreed with Goldsmith’s request to have Torres psychologically evaluated. She is due back in court on Feb. 18.

Gerald and Linda Robert live across the street from Sanford’s home on Pleasant Street but said they were not the neighbors who initially found him on Sunday. They said they had known Sanford, who also went by “Reggie,” for at least 50 years.

Gerald Robert said Sanford was a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who served during the Korean War. He said Sanford also worked at Geno’s Auto Service in Chicopee as an “auto body man” until he retired. Sanford’s wife, Joyce, died in 2010.

“He played cards with a bunch of fellas in Holyoke every morning,” Robert said. “I used to ask him if he wanted to go down to Cumberland’s with us and he would say, ‘No, I gotta go down and play cards.’ And he would do that until noontime.”

Robert said he last saw Sanford about a month ago when he came into Cumberland Farms while Robert was there.

“He would come in to get his milk or something and buy his ticket and say hi and sit in the booth with us for about four or five minutes and then he’d leave,” he said.

Every so often, Sanford would come out to Robert’s workshop in his backyard to see what he was doing. Robert said he would sometimes repair things for Sanford.

“Reggie was a good guy,” Robert said. “He wouldn’t do no harm to nobody. I still can’t believe it happened.”

Michael Connors can be reached at mconnors@gazettenet.com.


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