Volume 20, Number 44 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | March 16 - 22, 2011
Baruch murder arrest
Seventh Precinct detectives arrested a Baruch Houses resident on Sat., March 12 for the Feb. 12 stabbing murder of a woman in an elevator of 555 FDR Drive in the New York City Housing Authority complex.
Markeece Dunning, 19, a resident of an 11th floor apartment in the building where the body was found, was charged with second degree murder and is being held pending a March 18 court appearance.
The victim, Jomali Morales, 42, a resident of the Seward Park Co-op, was a half-sister of an N.Y.P.D. detective and was a former model. She had been out with friends and spent part of the evening in O’Hanlon’s, a bar on E. 14th St. according to a New York Times article.
Morales, who has 11 prior arrests, admitted to police that he stabbed the victim, according to a New York Post item.
Massage parlor robberies
Three men arrested on Wed., March 2 were charged with first- and second-degree robbery in connection with three knifepoint hold-ups of massage parlors in Chinatown and on the Upper East Side.
Juan Carlo Zorrilla, 19, Christian Esclera, 17, and Albert Esclera, 18, entered a massage parlor at 219 Canal St. between Mulberry and Baxter Streets around 7:15 p.m. on Wed., Feb. 23, held the attendant at knife-point and forced her into the bathroom after grabbing her cell phone, according to the complaint filed with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. They fled with $200 from the till, police said.
On Fri., Feb. 25, the three suspects entered a massage parlor at 128 Baxter St. near Hester St. around 10 p.m. and forced two employees into the bathroom after taking a bag with a cell phone and $115 from one victim and taking $31 from the other victim’s bag, according to the criminal complaint. They fled with $355 from the register, police said.
About two hours earlier that day, they entered another massage location at 1105 Lexington Ave., near E. 78th St., held a victim at knifepoint and forced her into the bathroom. The victim showed them her empty purse, said police, and added that they found fingerprints of one of the suspects on the cash register. Police did not say what, if anything, was taken from the Lexington Avenue location. The three suspects were in jail pending a March 30 court appearance.
East River floater
A police harbor unit responded to a Wednesday morning, March 9, call about a body in the water off 286 South St. between Rutgers Slip and Cherry Street and found the badly decomposed body of an unidentified man. The medical examiner’s office is investigating the cause of death.
Bus driver’s record
The driver of the Chinatown discount bus in which 15 passengers returning from the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut were killed in a crash during the early hours of Sat., March 12, had been convicted of a 1990 manslaughter as well as grand larceny and multiple traffic violations. Ophadell Williams, 40, has a commercial driver’s license despite having been arrested once for speeding and twice for driving without a license within eight days of each other in 1995, according to articles in the Daily News and the New York Post. Williams, who passed a breath-alcohol test after the accident, said that a passing tractor-trailer truck hit him, but police found no evidence of the other vehicle. Police and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the circumstances of the incident. In February, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and state Sen. Daniel Squadron, proposed legislation requiring permits for discount buses like World Wide Tours, which operated the fatal bus. The bus hit a highway sign stanchion after it veered off the road at a high rate of speed just inside the Bronx city line and had its roof almost entirely peeled off at the level of passengers’ heads. Passengers told police that the bus veered onto the rough shoulder at least four times prior to the crash, as if the driver were falling asleep.
Fell or jumped?
A West New York, N.J. woman, 26, fell or jumped to her death from the 26th floor of a residential building at 101 Warren St. near Greenwich Street during a beer party in the early hours of Tues., March 8, police said. The body of Hana Lim was found later that morning on the fifth floor roof of an adjacent Barnes & Noble. Her broken cell phone was found near the body and police suggested she may have fallen over a balcony rail while trying to retrieve it. Suicide was another possibility after a friend revealed that the victim, in New York from Korea on a student visa which was about to expire, did not want to return home. The two men who live in the apartment had gone out to buy more beer and did not see the victim when they returned, according to reports. They searched the public areas of the building and concluded the victim had left. A sixth floor resident saw the victim’s body at daybreak and called police.
A burglar broke into a New York City Housing Authority maintenance van parked in front of 43 Warren St. sometime between Feb. 18 and Feb 22, smashed the passenger side window and made off with a power saw valued at $900, police said.
— Albert Amateau
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