Elderly woman killed in murder-for-hire in Montecito, suspects arrested

March 8, 2024

Violet Evelyn Alberts


Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown announced on Thursday the arrests of four people suspected of participating in a murder-for-hire scheme that led to the death of a 96-year-old Montecito woman.

On May 22, 2022, a caretaker arrived to find her charge, Violet Evelyn Alberts, dead in her home. Through an autopsy and evidence found at the scene, such as a broken window, deputies determined Albert had been smothered in her sleep.

The mastermind behind the plot, 48-year-old Pauline Macareno, had conned Albert into what the elderly woman believed was a reverse mortgage. However, Macareno had transferred Albert’s multi-million property into her own name.

In June 2022, deputies arrested Macareno for fraud and elder abuse. Macareno was then sentenced to six-years in prison for fraud.

Investigators recently arrested three other alleged conspirators in Alberts’ murder: 33-year-old Henry Rostomyan, 41-year-old Ricardo Martin Del Campo and 58-year-old Harry Basmadjian.

During their investigation, deputies uncovered evidence of a scouting trip conducted by MartinDelCampo and Rostomyan before the murder.

“This pivotal discovery shed light on the premeditated nature of the crime, underscoring the perpetrators’ calculated efforts to survey Alberts’ home and plan their vicious and reprehensible actions,” Sheriff Brown said.

During the past three months, deputies arrested Basmadjian, Rostomyan and MartinDelCampo.

At the time of his arrest, Basmadjian was in federal custody on an unrelated charge. He subsequently suffered a life-threatening medical emergency that left him totally incapacitated with a grim prognosis.

Deputies booked both Rostomyan and MartinDelCampo in Santa Barbara County Jail where they are being held without bail on charges of murder and conspiracy to murder Alberts.


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Marcareno – Pure Evil! AT least now she won’t get the property! She wanted it SO bad she had her murdered? I can’t believe she is only getting 6 years. How can that be?

It is very sad what happened to this lady. The whole plot appears to have been dependent upon her falling for the scam.

I think of myself as being very hard to scam. However, I have very nearly succumbed to scammers on two occasions. Each time, at the very last opportunity, I realized something was not quite right. Some of the scams are very convincing and complex. Everyone, particularly the elderly, need to be alert at all times.

Signs of a scam are when you are asked to sign something you did not initiate, or asked to send money (especially cash or gift cards) somewhere you do not know about, or when you are asked for information on a phone call from someone who called you. The latter can be something like a bank calling about unusual charges on a credit card and saying they need to identify you to make certain they are speaking to their customer. Then ask for a credit card number to confirm you identity. My policy now is that I do not give ANY information to anyone calling me. I don’t even confirm that I am me.

Does Macareno now get charged with conspiracy to commit murder or did the paltry 6yrs for fraud include that?

Evil, pure evil.

I find it hard to believe, they thought they could get away

with these crimes. Not the sharpest tools in the tool box.

RIP to the poor victim.

Mastermind? Financially preying on and then smothering a 96 year old woman to death is nothing less than the cowardly act of a depraved mind, not mastermind.

“Monster mind” is a more fitting description. For her central/key role in this murder, I hope Pauline Macareno receives more than just the six years for her conviction of fraud.

There are some lovely people. Smother some 96 year old lady. Wow!