PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence police have made an arrest in connection with a man’s death last month.
Robert Ayers, 44, was arraigned Tuesday on charges of first-degree murder and burglary. No plea was entered and he was ordered held without bail.
Police allege Ayers killed 75-year-old Robert Fountaine at his Ethan Street home on the night of Aug. 24, Major David Lapatin said Wednesday.
According to Lapatin, police responded to the home that night for a report of a deceased man. At first, they didn’t notice anything suspicious, Lapatin said, but the state medical examiner later determined his death was a homicide.
“In the course of the day, we do go through a few DOAs,” Lapatin explained. “A lot of them natural causes, and we have to be sure. There was a few things that stood out that made them think that it wasn’t.”
“We figured it was better to keep it amongst ourselves until we solved the murder,” he added.
The investigation revealed Fountaine was followed home that night and assaulted inside his apartment. He later died from his injuries.
The incident remains under investigation, and Lapatin said more charges could be filed against Ayers.
He’s due back in court Sept. 27 for a bail hearing.
Watch: Lapatin briefing on Providence homicide (Story continues below.)
Fountaine’s obituary says he was a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and National Guard. Neighbors told 12 News that he spent a lot of time at the VFW in Cranston.
“He was a Vietnam veteran, Marine Corps,” Staff Sgt. Ronald Ricci said.
Ricci said he knew Fountaine for decades and was heartbroken to hear what happened.
“Sad. Just a sad, sad way to die,” he said. “Didn’t have to die like that.”
Ricci also said he has a lot of great memories of Fountaine and will remember him fondly.
“He was always there for us. He did plumbing work at the Post for free,” Ricci recalled. “Turkey trots, all kinds of neighborhood things that we did for free. And Christmas parties, we cooked for the kids and cookies.”
“He was just a great, great, great, funny guy with a good heart,” he added.