Woman Accused of Murder Attempts to Wash Away Forensic Evidence with Mountain Dew

A Florida woman, Nichole A. Maks, 35, suspected of murder, has been slapped with additional charges after she attempted to wash away potential forensic evidence from her body using a soda, according to Daytona Beach police. Maks was arrested in connection with the murder of 79-year-old Michael Cerasoli on August 5, as per a probable cause affidavit provided by the police.

On July 1, firefighters were summoned to a house on the 600 block of Clark Street at 1:46 a.m. following reports of a fire. The second floor of the house was ablaze, with clothes set on fire. The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the incident but did not provide further details on the arson investigation.

Upon extinguishing the fire, first responders discovered Cerasoli’s body lying facedown in a room splattered with blood. The elderly man had suffered blunt force trauma to the head and multiple stab wounds to the torso, according to police reports. The landlord of the property informed the police that Maks was the other tenant, but she was missing from the scene.

Two mobile phones were found near Cerasoli’s body. One belonged to the victim, while the other, which had a blood-stained knife on top of it, was identified as Maks’. Less than two hours later, Maks was spotted by the police, barefoot with blood on her leg and a torn shirt, outside a restaurant in the nearby community of Holly Hill. As the police approached, she dropped a knife and a hammer.

Maks was evasive when questioned about her recent whereabouts and her residence. Initially, she pointed towards a nearby pawn shop, claiming to live “right over there.” Later, she claimed to have been homeless for the past four years. When shown a photograph of Cerasoli, she denied knowing him. However, under further questioning, she admitted knowing Cerasoli but denied seeing him on the day of his murder. She then changed her story, stating that she was living with Cerasoli and had been at their shared home earlier that day.

Maks was taken into custody for further questioning. After being read her Miranda rights, she denied entering Cerasoli’s bedroom and claimed she only went to the second floor of their shared apartment to “feed her spiders.” When questioned about the weapons she had dropped, Maks became agitated and demanded a lawyer. The police later returned with a warrant to test her bloodied body for DNA evidence.

Maks requested a can of Diet Mountain Dew, which the police provided. She then proceeded to pour the soda all over her body and hair in an attempt to interfere with potential evidence. The police were forced to restrain a resisting Maks and place her in their cruiser. Blood found on the knife near Cerasoli’s body matched samples taken from Maks’ clothing. Her DNA was also found on the weapon’s handle.

Maks is currently 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 suggested that sucralose, a common artificial sweetener found in Diet Mountain Dew, can break down DNA. However, it remains unclear whether dousing oneself in soda would actually eliminate forensic evidence.