Preschool teacher’s boyfriend charged with her murder after her body was found in park

A beloved Delaware preschool teacher was found dead in a park a day after she did not show up for work, and her boyfriend was charged with her murder a week later, police said.

Stephen Heck, 66, was arrested Tuesday on a first-degree murder charge in the death of 63-year-old Cynthia Amalfitano and is currently being held at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, per a New Castle County Police statement and jail records. 

Police were dispatched to Amalfitano’s home on the 3400 block of Birch Circle in Wilmington on Sept. 25 when the teacher was uncharacteristically absent at Concord Preschool, where she had worked with children for 24 years, according to NBC 10 Philadelphia.

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Cynthia Amalfitano

Cynthia Amalfitano, 63, taught at Concord Preschool in Wilmington for 24 years before she went missing on Sept. 25. She was found dead the next day by a parking lot near her home. (New Castle County Police / FOX 29)

Amalfitano was nowhere to be found, but her cellphone and wallet had been left inside her home, police said.

After authorities began investigating and received a number of tips, police wrote in their press release that they found Amalfitano’s body dumped “near a parking lot in Carousel Park” minutes from her home.

Heck became a person of interest when Amalfitano’s death was ruled a homicide by a coroner; on Tuesday, a warrant was issued for his arrest.

“Following a thorough investigation into the incident, detectives authored a warrant for Stephen’s arrest on October 3, 2023,” the department wrote. “Heck was taken into custody without incident by detectives from the Special Investigations Squad.”

Police have not released any other details on the circumstances of Amalfitano’s death.

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Stephen Heck

Stephen Heck, 66, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Cynthia Amalfitano on Tuesday, a week after her body was recovered. (New Castle County Police Department)

“My thoughts are with the family during this tragic and difficult time,” New Castle County Police Chief Col. Joseph Bloch said. “I would also like to commend our criminal investigations unit for gathering enough evidence to take the suspect into custody, providing some measure of solace to the victim’s family.”

Concord Presbyterian Church pastor the Rev. Steven Clark told NBC 10 that the school “had to close quickly” after Amalfitano’s death “rocked the staff.”

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New Castle County Police Department cruiser

The New Castle County Police Department is investigating Amalfitano’s death. (New Castle County Police Department)

“Parents came, and we got [the] children and we gathered the staff,” Clark told the outlet.

In another interview with WPVI, he said the teacher “lit up a room wherever she was.”

Amalfitano was described as a funny and caring woman who was full of life by friends who spoke to publications. Per her obituary with Pagano Funeral Home, she “loved spending time with her family and friends.”

“Cindy also loved animals and took care of her cats, fish, horses, and goats, but nothing brought her more joy than her two dogs, Vaughn and Jingles,” the obituary reads. “In later years, she enjoyed visiting Rehoboth Beach almost every weekend.”

Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in Delaware

Stephen Heck is currently being held at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution. (Google Maps)

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Amalfitano is survived by her daughter and siblings.

The New Castle County Police Department could not be reached for comment at press time. An investigation into the teacher’s murder is ongoing. Anyone with pertinent information is asked to call Detective Gino Cevallos at 302-395-8129 or Gino.Cevallos@newcastlede.gov.

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