Florida woman doused herself in Diet Mountain Dew to erase DNA after killing roommate, 79: cops

Nichole Maks charged with murdering Michael Cerasoli, Daytona Beach police said

A blood-smudged Florida woman suspected of murder accrued additional charges after she asked police for a soda, then "poured it all over herself" in an attempt to scrub forensic evidence from her body, Daytona Beach police said. 

Nichole A. Maks, 35, was charged with tampering with evidence and resisting arrest with violence and premeditated first-degree murder in the death of 79-year-old Michael Cerasoli on Aug. 5, per a probable cause affidavit shared with Fox News Digital by police.

Firefighters were called to a smoldering home on the 600 block of Clark Street at 1:46 a.m. on July 1. Clothes on the second floor had been set on fire, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office told Fox News Digital, but said that they had "no [additional] information on the arson investigation."

After quickly extinguishing the flames, first responders found Cerasoli lying facedown in a blood-spattered room. He had suffered blunt force trauma to the head and stab wounds to the torso, police said.


Mugshot of Nichole Maks

Nichole A. Maks, 35, was charged with first-degree premeditated murder on July 1, as well as evidence tampering and resisting arrest for pouring soda on herself in an attempt to scrub forensic evidence from her body, police said. (Volusia County Government Public Protection Corrections)

The dead man's landlord told police that Maks was his other tenant – but the woman was nowhere to be found. 

Two cellphones were recovered near the 79-year-old's corpse: one belonged to the victim, while the other, which had a bloodied knife balanced on top of it, belonged to Maks. 

Less than two hours later, police said they spotted a barefoot Maks with blood on her leg and ripped shirt outside a Krystal restaurant in the nearby community of Holly Hill. 

When they approached, police said, she "dropped a knife and a hammer" at their feet. 


622 Clark Street in Daytona Beach, Florida, where Nichole Maks lived with Michael Cerasoli

Nichole Maks is accused of beating and stabbing 79-year-old Michael Cerasoli to death in their shared home, pictured. (Google Maps)

Maks evaded questions about her recent whereabouts and where she lived, first pointing in a direction and saying she lived "right over there" by a nearby pawn shop and then claiming she had been living on the streets for the last four years, police said. 

She denied knowing Cerasoli when detectives showed her his photograph.

When pressed, police said she conceded that she knew the man but denied seeing him on the day he was murdered. Then she shifted again, telling police she currently lived with Cerasoli and was at their home earlier that day.


Daytona Beach police then took Maks into custody for questioning, per their probable cause affidavit. 

After she was read her Miranda rights, Maks told detectives that she never entered Cerasoli's bedroom and only set foot on the second floor of their shared apartment to "feed her spiders." 

When asked about the weapons she had dropped, police said, Maks became "agitated" and demanded a lawyer. Police returned later with a warrant to test the woman's bloodied body for DNA evidence. 

Krystal Restaurant in Holly Hill, Florida

Nichole Maks, barefoot and bloodied, dropped a hammer and a knife when approached by officers outside this Krystal restaurant in Holly Hill, police said. (Google Maps)

Maks then asked for a can of Diet Mountain Dew and police obliged her. 

She began to "procrastinate" with the drink, and detectives tried to pull the can away from her, police said. 

Then, Maks "began to resist and poured the can of soda all over her body and hair... pulling away from officers in attempts to interfere with the possible evidence on [her] body," according to the affidavit.

Police then allegedly forced a "pulling and kicking" Maks into their cruiser. 

Blood on the knife found near Cerasoli's body matched samples taken from Maks' clothing, police said. The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported that her DNA was also recovered on the weapon's handle. 

Maks is being held in Volusia County Jail without bond and is scheduled for a court appearance on Sept. 5.

A recent study from North Carolina State University indicated that sucralose – a common artificial sweetener also known as Splenda and found in Diet Mountain Dew and other sodas – can break down the genetic material that makes up DNA. 

While researchers found that the sweetener could put people at risk for disease and wear down the lining of intestines, it is unclear whether dousing oneself in soda would actually eliminate forensic evidence.

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