Homeless shelter worker stabbed to death; resident arrested

Accused attacker was ‘agitated’

By John M. Guilfoil and Sean Teehan
Globe Staff | Globe Correspondent / January 30, 2011

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LOWELL — An employee at a homeless shelter in Lowell was stabbed to death yesterday morning by a teenage resident, authorities said.

Jose Roldan, 34, of Lowell, who worked at the Lowell Transitional Living Center, was attacked and later died of his injuries, the Middlesex district attorney’s office and Lowell police said in a statement.

Pericles Clergeau, 19, of Lowell, was arrested at the scene and later charged with murder, the statement said.

“This defendant is alleged to have attacked and killed one of the very people whose job it was to help him by serving his needs in a homeless shelter, at this time when so many are in dire need of shelter and life’s basics,’’ District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr. said. “This is an extremely tragic and senseless incident, and our thoughts are with the victim’s family.’’

According to Leone, police responded about 10 a.m. to the Middlesex Street shelter where they found Roldan stabbed and Clergeau holding a knife. Police subdued Clergeau and arrested him.

Roldan was flown to Brigham & Woman’s Hospital, where he died.

Clergeau was in an “agitated state,’’ and allegedly attacked Roldan as the worker tried to calm him down, Leone said.

No further information about a motive was released.

Outside the shelter last night, a woman placed a handwritten note near lit candles and rosary beads near one of the shelter’s entrances.

“He’d always be the first guy to help you out,’’ Joe Chartier, 19, who has lived there for about a month, said about Roldan.

Standing outside the shelter, Chartier and other residents described Roldan, who worked in the kitchen and at the front desk, as a well-liked man with a much-appreciated sense of humor.

“No one could tell you anything bad about him,’’ Chartier said.

Violent incidents are uncommon at the shelter, said William Egan, 42, who has lived there for three months. “What happened here was a rare, isolated incident.’’

But Egan said Clergeau displayed bizarre behavior, accusing people of plotting against him and watching movies about serial killer Ted Bundy on his cellphone.

Egan recalled one incident in which Clergeau accused him of talking about him behind his back, Egan said.

“He said to me, ‘What’s your problem? Why are you plotting against me?’ ’’

Matthew Tuck, 49, a resident for about a month, described Clergeau as a “troublemaker’’ who had frequent run-ins with residents.

“He thinks people are talking about him, saying bad stuff,’’ said Tuck.

Tuck, who said he had known Roldan for about a year, sympathized with the difficulty of his job, which sometimes called for him to deal with volatile people with substance abuse and mental health issues.

Clergeau will be arraigned tomorrow in Lowell District Court.

Officials from the shelter declined to comment on the stabbing.

The Lowell Transitional Living Center is a shelter for homeless adults “dedicated to providing safe short-term housing, food, and the basic support services required to transition clients to permanent housing in their home communities,’’ according to a mission statement on its website.

The stabbing comes on the heels of the Jan. 20 slaying of 25-year-old Stephanie Moulton of Peabody, a counselor at the North Suffolk Mental Health facility in Revere. Deshawn James Chapell, a resident at the facility, is being held in the slaying.

John Guilfoil can be reached at