Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced that a Providence County Superior Court jury found Matthew Gumkowski (age 34), formerly of West Warwick, guilty today of first degree murder and first degree arson for the May 11, 2011 murder of 42-year old Michael DiRaimo. The jury returned the guilty verdict after four hours of deliberations following a week-long trial presided over by Superior Court Justice Netti C. Vogel.
During the trial, jurors heard that Gumkowski killed DiRaimo by slitting his throat, after which he set fire to a utility shed on a property on Sophia Street in Providence in an attempt to cover up the murder. Gumkowski and DiRaimo were familiar with one another one and believed to have exchanged drugs for sex.
On May 11, 2011, Providence Fire Department was dispatched to the fire at approximately 10:00 p.m. While extinguishing the fire, the body of Michael DiRaimo was found face down, naked and severely burned. An autopsy determined that DiRaimo was killed before the fire and the cause of death was a result of a loss of blood due to a cut to his neck, approximately 12 inches long.
Police subpoenaed DiRaimo's cell phone records where a series of text exchanges was discovered between DiRaimo and an unknown person where DiRaimo accused the person of stealing his drugs and threatened to expose the relationship to the person's girlfriend, friends and co-workers. In total, records showed 80 texts and phone calls between the two within 48 hours before DiRaimo's murder. Texts also showed that on the night of the murder, the person agreed to meet with DiRaimo.
Providence Police had not identified the person that DiRaimo had texted and spoke with right before his death until in July 2011, when Providence Police Detective Kenneth Court learned of a similar crime in Attleboro, MA. Attleboro Police had arrested Matthew Gumkowski as the suspect in that murder and arson. The cell phone number Gumkowski listed on the Attleboro Police booking report was the same phone number from the DiRaimo murder. During a search of Gumkowski's residence, police found a cell phone later determined to belong to DiRaimo. DNA from the telephone was a match to Gumkowski.
On October 31, 2014, Gumkowski was found guilty by a Bristol County, MA jury of first degree murder and arson for the July 2011 murder of 50-year-old Joseph Kilrow and is currently serving a life sentence, without the possibility of parole.
In Rhode Island, the penalty for first degree murder is life in prison and the penalty for first degree arson is up to life in prison.
Providence Police Detective Kenneth Court led the investigation and Assistant Attorney General Scott Erickson prosecuted the case on behalf of the Office of Attorney General.