A Trunk in a Suitcase
Q: In 2007, a suitcase containing the torso of a woman washed up on the shore in Mamaroneck. It was thought that it might be a murder associated with the brutal slaying of the women found on Gilgo Beach in Long Island. Have they ever identified that Mamaroneck victim? If so, has it been determined that it was the same serial killer?
—M. Elizabeth Gillan, Irvington
A: On March 3, 2007, a suitcase of the kind exclusively sold at Walmart washed up on the beach at Harbor Island Park in Mamaroneck. Inside was the torso of a woman believed to be African American or Latin, between the ages of 35 and 50, weighing between 180 and 200 pounds. Over one breast was a small tattoo of cherries. Three weeks later, on March 21 and 22, a leg washed up on the shore of Cove Neck, Long Island. The toenails were painted with pink nail polish, and it was determined that they belonged to the Mamaroneck body.
It is believed that over a 20-year period, a serial killer has been murdering female sex workers and depositing their bodies near the remote beach towns of Suffolk County, near Gilgo Beach. The Mamaroneck victim was dismembered in the same way that two of the Gilgo Beach victims had been. Only circumstantial evidence connects the Mamaroneck body with the others, and, because the killer has never been identified, it’s difficult to do anything but speculate. Complicating matters is that many storms have hit the region during this period, making it difficult to determine from which direction the body came.
I reached out to Westchester private investigator J. Casey Quin, a 31-year veteran of law enforcement, to find out why identifying a body in such a case is so difficult.
“If you look at the remains, you have no head, which, aside from the obvious, makes age difficult to assess, and you have no hair or eye color. With no hands or feet, there are no prints to research. If her DNA isn’t in the system, there is no way to check that. If she has a common blood type, that does very little to help match her with missing-persons data,” Quin explains.
Just Another Faal-acy
Some think the death of Ambassador John Ashe wasn’t an accident.
Q: Did anyone other than me find it “interesting” that John Ashe, the disgraced UN diplomat from Antigua, died in his home just one day before he was to testify against Hillary Clinton?
—Mahamed Safani, Port Chester
A: Between the Clinton haters and conspiracy theorists, there were no doubt many other than you who found it “interesting.”
The truth is that Ashe, who had a home in Dobbs Ferry, wasn’t scheduled to testify against Clinton the day (or in five days, as some sources claimed) after his death. He was scheduled to attend some standard pretrial meetings.
A federal grand jury indicted Ashe, a former diplomat for the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, in October, on a scandal involving Chinese businessmen and bribes totaling more than $1 million. Preet Bharara, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said Ashe “sold himself and the global institution he led” for cash that he then spent on luxury items.
Ashe died in a weightlifting injury at his home when a barbell fell on his throat and fractured his larynx. At first, it was erroneously reported as a heart attack.
The conspiracy began from a single source, blogger Sorcha Faal, who publishes on a site that is known for making things up.
Water, Water Everywhere
The original water tower in Yonkers’ Nodine Hill section collapsed in 1937.
Q: In your August issue, I read about the water tower on Executive Boulevard in Yonkers. I was wondering about the water tower in the Nodine Hill section of Yonkers, on Elm and Prescott Streets. Was that built prior to the one on Executive Blvd?
—MaryAnne O’Donnell, Yonkers
A: I spoke with my buddy Patrick Raftery, of the Westchester Historical Society, and he says the original Nodine Hill Water Tower was built way back in 1891. On Saturday, October 23, 1937, at 7:55 a.m., the tower collapsed, causing one of Yonkers’ greatest floods and one of the biggest events in the history of the city.
One hundred thousand gallons of water gushed into the street, crushing a dozen cars and caving in several homes. People in the path were swept away but, somewhat miraculously, no one was killed. Fortunately, it was a Saturday, so the crew that had been working on the tower all week were off-duty.
Work on the present-day tower began almost immediately, starting in 1938 and finishing in 1939. According to Mayor Spano’s director of communications, Christina Gilmartin, the Executive Boulevard water tower, built in 1985, is a recent addition.