On February 09th 2019 at 2:53 A.M. the Binghamton Police Department Patrol Division and Binghamton Fire Department responded to 109 Walnut Street, in the City of Binghamton. The location is a multiple unit apartment building. There was a structure fire at the location. One individual was found deceased by firefighters within the location. Other building tenants in a separate apartment on the second floor included three adults and four children (ranging in age from 2 years to 9 years of age) were able to escape from within the location at time of fire.
The Binghamton Police investigation of the matter determined this to be a criminal incident and developed a suspect identified as WILFREDO PICA-TORRES. Subsequent police investigation determined Pica-Torres made an unauthorized and illegal entry into the first floor apartment and once within physically beat the two adult occupants with a blunt object, and subsequently set fire to the building.
The victims within were identified as VICTOR BANAYAN, 61 years of age, residing at 109 Walnut Street. 1st Floor apartment, as well as a 27 year old female (identity withheld as a victim) whom is an associate of Mr. Banayan and was residing with him at the address at the time. Autopsy at Binghamton’s Our Lady of Lourdes Memorial Hospital was conducted on the morning of 02/09/19 and determined that Victor Banayan’s cause of death was blunt force trauma.
The surviving female victim was able to escape the attack and structure fire (originating in the first floor apartment) with the assistance of second floor apartment tenants; whom were awoken from sleep by the noise of the attack and fire. The female victim sustained physical injuries including bone fractures and blunt force trauma to her head, torso and extremities. The female victim was treated by EMS and later hospitalized at an area hospital.
It is alleged that following and or during the beatings, that Pica-Torres intentionally set the apartment and building ablaze utilizing a liquid accelerant to escalate the fire, thereby committing arson. Pica-Torres was known prior to Mr. Banayan. Pica-Torres and the unnamed female victim do have a past domestic / romantic relationship.
Due to the fire, the building sustained extensive structural damage and contributed to difficulties and obstructions in processing the crime scene and removal of the deceased victim. The scene was processed by the Binghamton Police Identification Unit / Crime Scene Unit and City police and fire department, fire investigators. The New York State Police canine / cadaver dog assisted at the scene as well.
The investigation continued during day and evening hours on Saturday 02/09/19, Detectives tracked the suspect to a vacant apartment located within a multiple apartment building at located at 17-19 Thorp Street in Binghamton a few blocks from the fire scene. Pica-Torres had barricaded himself with within location, the remainder of that building was occupied by multiple tenants, and a building evacuation ensued. The Binghamton-Metro SWAT team was summoned to the scene and a tactical SWAT action was commenced. It is alleged that Pica-Torres then set that vacant apartment and building on fire. Pica-Torres exited the location and was taken into custody. Pica-Torres had minor hand injuries and was provided medical attention.
Pica-Torres was later transported to Binghamton Police Headquarters where he was later charged with the following offenses:
Murder in the second degree (Penal Law 125.25-03 a Class A-1 Felony)
Burglary in the first degree (Penal Law 140.30-02 a Class B Felony)
Arson in the second degree (Penal Law 150.15 a Class B Felony)
Two separate counts; one for each arson fire location Pica-Torres was arraigned by a City Court Judge on 02/11/19 and turned over to the custody of the Brome County Sheriff’s Office. Defendant:
DOB – 09/05/73
Address: 107 Walnut Street Apt. 1 Binghamton, NY
Sex: Male / Race: Black