Volume 22, Number 10 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | July 17 - 23, 2009
Police are investigating the murder of Eridana Rodriguez, 46, whose body was found Sat., July 11 in an air conditioning duct at 2 Rector St., the office building where she worked as a cleaning woman.
The victim, a Washington Heights resident and mother of three children, was last seen in the building by co-workers on Tuesday evening July 7. Her body was found fully clothed, except for her shoes and stockings, in the duct on the 12th floor with her mouth and most of her head wrapped in brown and yellow tape. The gold crucifix she wore around her neck was entangled in the tape around her mouth.
Swarms of police had searched the 26-story building for four days before blood at a duct on a floor undergoing construction revealed where the victim’s body had been hidden.
Police questioned Joseph Pabon, 26, of Staten Island, the elevator operator in the building who was working in the building at the same time as the victim. He reportedly told police he left work early on the night Rodriguez went missing and went to a Staten Island hospital to get treatment for scratches on his hands, arms and neck. Pabon’s lawyer, Mario Gallucci, said the scratches were the result of gardening activities. Gallucci said police had been following Pabon ever since the victim went missing and had questioned him for 25 straight hours, according to articles in the Post and Daily News.
Police said Pabon was a “person of interest” in the case but was not a suspect and by press time no one was arrested or identified as a suspect.
Business owner killed
The body of Chinatown business owner Xie Chao, 37, was found in her husband’s car in Bay Ridge near the couple’s Brooklyn home on Mon., July 6 after she had been reported missing on July 2, police said. She and her husband, You Song Zhu, 41, own a restaurant supply business on Allen St. Her husband told police on July 5 that the victim’s family in China had received an anonymous phone call demanding $50,000 for her safe return. Police are investing the case but there have been no arrests by press time.
Lower East Side mugging
Police arrested Marc Cruz, 21, a resident of Gompers Houses, and Henry Nieves, 18, of the Baruch Houses for robbing a man on Columbia and Broome Sts. at 9:30 p.m. Tues., July 7. The suspects knocked the victim to the sidewalk, banged his head against the pavement and fled with his cell phone according to the charges. They were being held in lieu of bail pending an Aug. 12 court appearance.
Police arrested Melvin Banks, 22, on Tues., July 7 and charged him with participating in four burglaries in Lower Manhattan and the Flatiron district between April and October of last year. Banks was recorded on surveillance cameras at the four locations, according to police.
In Lower Manhattan, Banks entered an office at 6 Maiden La. at 4:30 p.m. April 4, 2008 with two accomplices and stole three laptop computers, according to charges filed by the Manhattan district attorney’s office. On Oct. 24, 2008, Banks and two accomplices entered an office at 455 Broadway near Grand St. at 7:50 p.m. and took a laptop computer, according to the charges.
In the Flatiron district, the suspect and two accomplices entered a sixth floor office at 27 W. 20th St. around 4 p.m. Sept. 6, 2008 and stole a laptop computer and an iPhone, the charges say. Three days later at 5:05 p.m., Banks entered an office at 135 W. 20th St. with three accomplices and made off with a Canon EOS camera and a lens, according to prosecutors.
Two teenage suspects were arrested shortly after 12:40 a.m. Sat., July 4 and charged with stealing a duffle bag belonging to an employee of the restaurant at 265 Elizabeth St. near Houston St. The restaurant manager had given Unique Chavis and Jarel Ward, both 16-year-old Bronx residents, permission to use the restaurant bathroom but became suspicious and phoned police when he didn’t see either of them leave, according to police. Police say they discovered that the duffle bag, with the owner’s cell phone and passport, had been stolen and arrested the two suspects after a canvass of the neighborhood.
Chinatown gang assault
A group of men attacked a victim outside a social club on Division St. near Market at 9:30 p.m. Fri., July 10, police said. The suspects hit the victim, 29, with sticks and a hammer and fled with his BlackBerry and his neck chain, police said.
Life for Littlejohn
Brooklyn State Supreme Court Justice Abraham Gerges on Wed., July 8 sentenced Darryl Littlejohn, 44, to life in prison without parole for the February 2006 murder of Imette St. Guillen, the John Jay student last seen at The Falls, the former bar at 224 Lafayette St. where Littlejohn worked as a bouncer. He was found guilty of transporting her from the bar, strangling her and dumping her body near the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn. The life sentence is to be served concurrently with a 25-year-to-life term for kidnapping a York College woman in Queens prior to the St. Guillen murder.
Raccoon’s trendy fall
A raccoon jumped from a private carter’s truck into the John Varvatos boutique at 222-4 Spring St. at Greene St. around 2 p.m. Sat., July 11 and climbed to the top of a display case, according to a Daily News article. The manager of the store called Animal Care and Control who sent a crew to capture the animal, which appeared sickly and had to be euthanized.
Police arrested Chen Lin, 19 and Chun Lo, 17, both of Brooklyn, during the early hours of Mon. July 7 and charged them with robbing two women, one at knifepoint at Grand St. at Bowery and the other a block away on Forsyth St. Both were released on bail pending an Aug. 8 court appearance, according to a spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney.
— Albert Amateau