NEW YORK -- Imette St. Guillen, a graduate student on the dean's list, suffered the sort of gruesome death typically reserved for drug dealers or mobsters who cross the boss.St. Guillen (pronounced GHEE yen) had been set to graduate this semester with a master's degree in forensic psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. She was on the Graduate Dean's List. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. in 2003 as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
St. Guillen, 24, was raped, strangled and left on the side of a remote road in Brooklyn. Beige packing tape masked her entire face. A sock had been stuffed in her mouth, and her body was wrapped in a floral bedspread.
Photo provided by Boston Latin High School shows Imette St. Guillen, left, posing with friends at her high school graduation (Class of 1999). Ms. St. Guillen was found strangled Saturday, Feb. 25, 2006, in Brooklyn, New York. (AP Photo/Courtesy Boston Latin High School)
"She was kind, she was loving and she wouldn't hurt anyone," her mother, Maureen, said Tuesday outside her home.
Investigators (first) theorize the killer was a stranger who lured St. Guillen out of The Falls, the lower Manhattan bar where she was last seen early Saturday. But no suspects have been identified.
Later Saturday, authorities received an anonymous 911 call from a man who gave the location of St. Guillen's body _ and nothing more. Police traced the call to a public phone at a diner about a mile from where the body was discovered in a patch of weeds, and six miles from where she was last seen alive.
Investigators have tried to locate the caller, thinking he may have been involved in the crime and called out of remorse. They also have canvassed motels and hotels, believing the fitted, king-size bedspread wrapped around the body could have come from one of the establishments. So far, neither lead has panned out.
St. Guillen's family has appealed for the public's help in finding the killer.
"She was a beautiful girl, I mean beautiful inside also," her mother said.
Ms. St. Guillen came to New York in 2004 after graduating from George Washington University in Washington with a major in criminal justice. A Boston native, she attended the prestigious Boston Latin High School. Her father, Seimundo St. Guillen, who died in 1990, had earned bachelor's and master's degrees in criminal justice. He had worked as an alcohol counselor.
Ms. St. Guillen lived with a roommate, Rebecca Reilly, for two years in a basement apartment on West End Avenue, on the upper West Side of Manhattan. She was a member of the New York City Social Sports Club (NYCSSC) and played dodgeball.
St. Guillen had just returned from a Florida vacation when she went out drinking Friday night with her long-time friend Claire Higgins and other friends. The two walked out of the Pioneer Bar, at 218 Bowery, together about 3:20 a.m. Saturday, after Ms. Higgins decided she wanted to go home for the night. A security camera captured footage of the two parting ways outside the bar in the Bowery section where they had spent the past four hours.
Claire Higgins (photo above), a school teacher who had been a high school classmate of St. Guillen's at Boston Latin School, reportedly told investigators she quarreled with Ms. St. Guillen early Saturday morning because she wanted to go home and St. Guillen did not. Ms. Higgins left in a cab.
A9 Map & Street Level Images -- Bowery St., New York City
Ms. Higgins later told police she checked on St. Guillen by cell phone at around 3:50 a.m. In their brief, final conversation, the victim said that she had gone to another bar in the neighborhood and would be home soon.
The call went like this: "She is basically saying, 'Are you going home?' and she says, 'Yeah, I am going home soon,' " said a police official, recounting the conversation. Though Ms. St. Guillen did not identify the bar she said she was in, the police have eyewitnesses at The Falls bar who reported seeing her there at the time of the call.
The bartender would later remember Ms. Guillen drank one, maybe two rum-and-Cokes, and sat alone. Though various witnesses say she had as many as six drinks throughout the night, they say she did not appear drunk as she left.
Investigators have refused to reveal whether they have information she was with anyone else at The Falls.
(open every day from 11:00 AM- 4:00 AM)
218 Lafayette St. (1 block south of Spring St., between Spring & Kenmare St.)
New York, NY 10012
A9 Map & Street Level Images -- Lafayette St., New York City. Use the Amazon A9 Map and street level images to follow Ms. St. Guillen's footsteps as she left The Falls headed toward Spring St.
Photos from The Falls:
The Dorrian family co-owners of The Falls with John Kekalos also operate Dorrian's Red Hand, the Upper East Side haunt where "preppie killer" Robert Chambers met Jennifer Levin before killing her in Central Park in 1986.
The building The Falls is in is owned by the family of former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro. The building's second-floor offices were reported by the NY Daily News to have an inner "secret" door and stairway leading to the bar.
Around 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, a man at a public phone outside the Lindenwood Diner, 2870 Linden Blvd., Brooklyn, told the 911 operator a body was dumped about a mile away.
The NY Post released on March 3rd a transcript of the 911 call:
Operator: Hello, 911.
Caller: I think there's a body over at Fountain and Seaview.
Operator: How do you know? What did you see?
Caller: It looks like a body. You should send someone to take a look at it.
St. Guillen, who would have celebrated her 25th birthday on March 2nd, was found dead Saturday evening at around 8:43 p.m., wrapped in a quilt and dumped along Fountain Ave. near Seaview Ave. in Brooklyn. This location is in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn and it is just off the Belt Parkway near Kennedy International Airport.
People familiar with the spot where Ms. St. Guillen's body was found noted its proximity to an area that has been used for drag racing. It is an area between the housing projects of East New York and the marshes of Jamaica Bay. The area has a long history of illegal dumping. The area is known as a lovers' lane and also as a dumping ground for bodies after other murders.
Image of fitted king-size quilted bedspread used to wrap Ms. St. Guillen's body. The quilted bedspread label(s) bear the brand name Springmaid. "It's a comforter that normally would be found in a motel -- not the type that most people would have in their homes," one high-ranking police official said.
The New York City chief medical examiner's office has ruled the cause of death was asphyxiation by compression of the neck and occlusion of the nose and mouth.
Timeline of Events:
Friday, Feb. 24, 2006
10:00 p.m. - Ms. St. Guillen, her long-time friend Claire Higgins & friends go to The Pioneer Bar in the Bowery section of New York City.
Saturday morning, Feb. 25, 2006
3:20 a.m. - Ms. St. Guillen and Ms. Higgins walked out of the Pioneer Bar together, after Ms. Higgins decided she wanted to go home for the night. A security camera captured footage of the two parting ways outside the bar. Ms. Higgins left in a cab.
3:30 a.m. - Ms. St. Guillen walks by herself 6 blocks West to The Falls bar.
3:50 a.m. - Ms. Higgins calls Ms. St. Guillen.
4:00 a.m. - Ms. St. Guillen had one, maybe two rum-and-Cokes, and sat alone at the Falls before the bar closed at 4 a.m. She is last seen leaving The Falls, with some reports saying she was seen near Spring St.
Saturday evening, Feb. 25, 2006
8:23 p.m. - 911 caller from Lindenwood Diner pay phone tips police off to a "body over at Fountain and Seaview."
8:43 p.m. - Police locate the body of a young woman in an area known as a dumping ground for bodies after other murders.
Sunday, Feb. 26, 2006
Friends and family start search for Ms. St. Guillen.
Alejandra St. Guillen identifies the body found on Fountain Ave. as that of her sister, Imette St. Guillen.
Friday, Mar. 3, 2006
About 150 NY City police officers take part in a grid search of the Brooklyn crime scene area.
----Friday, Mar. 3, 2006, 4:00-8:00 p.m. Wake held for Imette St. Guillen
Early Saturday, the police, apparently searching for a van that might have been used in the crime, seized one near an auto repair shop in East New York, Brooklyn, before returning it to its owner later in the day, said José Taveras, the owner of the repair shop.
10 a.m - Funeral Services for Ms. Guillen at the William J. Gormley Funeral Home, 2055 Centre St., West Roxbury, Massachusetts. The funeral draws hundreds of mourners.
Sunday, Mar. 5, 2006
Littlejohn, 41, was taken into police custody Sunday and questioned at the 75th Precinct.
Police with a search warrant returned Sunday to the bar where Imette St. Guillen last was seen alive. Officers, some in protective white laboratory suits, searched for evidence for several hours at The Falls, the Bowery drinking spot St. Guillen visited before she vanished in the early hours of Feb. 25. They also searched a commercial space above the bar. A police Crime Scene Unit van sat parked outside.
Police search Bowery bar where graduate student last was seen [Newsday, Mar. 5, 2006]
NYPD detectives spent Sunday grilling a career criminal who worked as a bouncer at the trendy Soho hotspot where Imette St. Guillen was last seen before her brutalized body was found.
Darryl Littlejohn, 41, was the bouncer on duty at The Falls bar last Saturday morning and was the last person seen with St. Guillen, patrons told police...
N.Y. cops grill parolee: Bouncer last to be seen with Imette [Boston Herald, Mar. 6, 2006]
Littlejohn appeared in a police lineup at the 75th Precinct station house in East New York on suspicion of rape. The rape victim did not pick him out of the lineup. The victim had earlier picked Littlejohn out of a photo array.
Monday, Mar. 6, 2006
Police obtain a search warrant for Darryl Littlejohn's residence at 153-26 121st Ave., South Jamaica, Queens, after telling a judge that cell phone records put Littlejohn at his home at 5 p.m. on Feb. 25 - and place him an hour later near the secluded Brooklyn spot where St. Guillen's body was found that night. Mr. Littlejohn's mother, Lucille Harris owns the house.
Midday Monday, with Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes at the precinct monitoring the high-profile case, Littlejohn asked for a lawyer and refused to answer any more questions.
5:30 p.m. Police start searching Littlejohn house. The search warrant indicating they were looking for about a dozen items that included blood, DNA, sand, and hair, according to Littlejohn’s aunt, Addie Harris.
Tuesday, Mar. 7, 2006
Littlejohn remains in police custody on a parole violation. He was moved to Rikers Island to await a hearing on whether he would be returned to prison for violating his parole on an armed-robbery rap.
Wednesday, Mar. 8, 2006
Littlejohn is now a suspect in at least three other rape cases in Queens and Nassau County.
Thursday, Mar. 9, 2006
District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement that Darryl Littlejohn, 41, would be placed in the lineup in connection with a sex attack on Oct. 16, 2005 in the Forest Hills neighborhood. The lineup will be in the 12th Precinct.
Darryl Littlejohn was placed in a six-person lineup for a violent Queens rape, but the victim in that case did not pick him out. The victim had earlier picked Littlejohn out of a photo array.
Friday, Mar. 10, 2006
Investigators were tearing out plumbing in Darryl Littlejohn's home in search of evidence.
Sunday, Mar. 12, 2006
Darryl Littlejohn has been named the prime suspect in the murder investigation of Imette St. Guillen after DNA evidence linked the 41-year-old bouncer to the crime, NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly said at a press conference Sunday. A Brooklyn grand jury is expected to indict Littlejohn this coming week for the murder of St. Guillen.
Littlejohn Now The Prime Suspect Thanks To DNA [CBS-TV, Mar. 12, 2006]
Tuesday, Mar. 14, 2006
Witness testimony, evidence and DNA test results in the Imette St. Guillen murder investigation were presented to a Grand Jury in Brooklyn, New York. Prosecutors will be seeking a first-degree murder indictment.
Wednesday, Mar. 22, 2006
A Brooklyn, NY, grand jury indicted Darryl Littlejohn on charges of murdering Imette St. Guillen.
Littlejohn, 41, who is being held at Rikers Island on parole violations, was charged with first-degree murder involving sexual abuse and two counts of second-degree murder, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes said at a news conference.
Mr. Littlejohn in an interview with CBS-TV and through his lawyer, Kevin P. O'Donnell, has maintained his innocence.
Imette St. Guillen Crime Map at Platial.com
Huff's Crime Blog reported finding an online Friendster.com listing for Ms. St. Guillen: Imette's Profile
American's Most Wanted had this information about the case:
Her face was wrapped like a mummy inThe NY Daily News said "Cops think it's an evil stranger" --
cleartan plastic packaging tape, suggesting that her killer wanted to freeze the pained expression on her face. Also, the killer chopped off her signature long, black hair.
Cops say there is evidence that the petite 5'2'' woman struggled with her attacker, but still she violently was overcome.
Major Clues Could ID Killer
Still cops are hopeful that several big clues could pinpoint who committed such monstrous acts.
First, if the origin of the bedspread can be determined, then investigators have a major step in the right direction. Cops say it is a white, commercial quality quilt, with a Monet-like print of red, pink and purple flowers. More than likely, it is from a cheap motel in the area.
Also, the police were tipped off on the body's location after a mysterious phone call. The call was made from a pay phone outside a nearby diner. Cops suspect that it was either made by the killer or someone related to her murder, in an attempt to get attention or in remorse.
Once cops identify the blanket and who made the phone call, they believe they'll find their killer.
The beautiful criminology student found dead on the side of a desolate road was last seen standing alone near the heart of SoHo - and was likely grabbed off the street by a monstrous stranger, police sources revealed yesterday.BostonHerald.com reported some new leads in the case on March 3rd:
When Imette St. Guillen stepped out of The Falls bar onto Lafayette St. just minutes after 4 a.m., she wasn't with her friends or anyone she had met inside.
She was alone, witnesses told cops.
"We don't have reason to think she met anyone there and what we know so far leans toward her being grabbed after she left by someone she didn't know," a police source said.
The darkened street was almost empty, and although several witnesses remember seeing the attractive, dark-haired graduate student near Spring St., no one recalls which way she turned to walk, police sources said.
If the 24-year-old had managed to walk a single block in any direction, her last steps likely would have been recorded by a surveillance camera posted outside a store or bank.
Her short trip to The Falls from the Pioneer Bar - a popular nightspot on the Bowery where she had been drinking with her closest friend - also may have taken her past at least 25 security cameras.
Yet there are no known images of St. Guillen after she left the Pioneer Bar about 3:30 a.m.
No fingerprints were recovered from the brown packing tape used in the sick murder of a Boston Latin graduate whose body was found in Brooklyn Saturday, leading investigators to theorize the killer may have used a hand-held instrument to swath her entire face with the tape, the Herald has learned.Progression of police theories regarding the murder reported by news outlets:
The discovery prompted NYPD detectives to begin looking at movers who might have been in the area around the same time Imette St. Guillen, 24, was last seen alive leaving a bar in the swanky Soho neighborhood about 4 a.m. Saturday.
Her naked body was found 17 hours later on a desolate block in a blighted Brooklyn neighborhood 14 miles from The Falls, the Lafayette Street bar where St. Guillen had her last drinks. Her raven hair was chopped to her neck. Her ankles were bound by shoelaces. A white gym sock was stuffed in her mouth, which was covered by the packing tape. Her hands were bound with plastic ties.
There were small cuts on her skin, and her throat was purple with bruises. She had been sexually assaulted and her body was covered with a comforter with gathered edges and pastel flowers.
The evidence points to materials used by moving companies, or even unauthorized movers who advertise as "“man with a van" in local papers. "“We have a packing tape, plastic ties, and a blanket - all items used by movers,"” a law enforcement source said yesterday. "Is it possible that she was snatched into a box truck by someone who saw her alone on the street? At this point, anything is possible."
- Someone she met at the Falls bar abducted her.
- Ms. Guillen may have been gang raped.
- Someone was perhaps stalking her. Ms. Guillen's email, background, and former boyfriend (fellow John Jay student Ryan Kocher) were checked.
- An "evil stranger" accosted her after she left The Falls bar.
- A fake livery driver picked up St. Guillen.
- Some person(s) associated with a moving company abducted her.
- Random act by a serial killer or killers who have committed violence before.
- Ms. Guillen was possibly abducted by someone working or lurking in or around The Falls Bar, because she doesn't appear on security cameras further down the block after 4 a.m.
- The Falls bouncer, Darryl Littlejohn, has become the prime suspect in the investigation. Police reportly tipped by the attorney for Danny Dorrian, age 33, brother of the co-owner Michael J. Dorrian.
- Police suspect an accomplice may have been involved and are questioning other bar patrons and people in Mr. Littlejohn's neighborhood.
So the Imette St. Guillen murder investigation has come full circle. It started at The Falls bar and it appears to be ending at The Falls bar. The New York Police Department has some serious explaining to do. How did they miss Darryl Littlejohn in their initial response to the murder? Why did it take a tip from the bartender, Danny Dorrian, to move this case along? Was he initally interviewed? Were all The Falls employees interviewed separately and their statements compared?
Basic police procedure requires that all witnesses give statements. Each witness then has their name, identity, and social security number checked. How did the NYPD and all the manpower they directed at this case miss or ignore Mr. Littlejohn's ex-con/parolee status? Especially given his key position as the bouncer and prime witness in establishing a timeline for Ms. Guillen's movements. This oversight put a lot of people through a week of hell. Hopefully, these questions will be answered and some light will be shed.
Last photo of Ms. Guillen taken Thursday, Feb. 23, 2006 at a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., near where her family has a vacation home.
The St. Guillen family, police, the mayor's office and John Jay School of Criminal Justice have offered a reward of $42,000 for information leading to the conviction of the killer. If you have infomation about the case call - Crime Stoppers: 1-800-577-TIPS
Littlejohn indicted in St. Guillen murder [TJN, Mar. 22, 2006]
Hanging out with Darryl Littlejohn [TJN, Mar. 20, 2006]
St. Guillen Murder Case: 2nd Bouncer Key Witness [TJN, Mar. 18, 2006]
Darryl Littlejohn - St. Guillen Murder Case - Fallout [TJN, Mar. 14, 2006]
Darryl Littlejohn to be indicted for murder of Imette St. Guillen [TJN, Mar. 12, 2006]
Littlejohn: "Don't worry, I'll take you home" [TJN, Mar. 11, 2006]
Darryl Littlejohn: Murder & Now Serial Rapist Suspect [TJN, Mar. 8, 2006]
NYPD builds case against Darryl Littlejohn for St. Guillen murder [TJN, Mar. 7, 2006]
Ex-con bouncer, Darryl Littlejohn, prime suspect in Imette St. Guillen Murder [TJN, Mar.6, 2006]
Imette St. Guillen - Where was she grabbed? Was it the bouncer? [TJN, Mar. 5, 2006]
Slain Student Remembered as Smart, Lively and Kind [NY Times, Mar. 5, 2006]
Murder in the city: Who killed Imette? [Dateline NBC, Mar. 4, 2006]
Graduate student's funeral draws hundreds [USA Today, Mar. 4, 2006]
Imette Carmella St. Guillen Obituary [Boston Globe, Mar. 3, 2006]
Solving a Student's Killing Has Its Challenges [NY Times, Mar. 2, 2006]
Friend joins appeal for help in NYC slaying case [Boston Globe, Mar. 2, 2006]
Slay case questions [NY Daily News, Mar. 1, 2006]
Sunshine taken from lives of loved ones [Boston Herald, Mar. 1, 2006]
NYC police alarmed, baffled over grad student's slaying [Newsday, Mar. 1, 2006]
Police Try to Trace Last Steps of a Student Found Slain [NY Times, Feb. 28, 2006]
Cops study security cams in grad student slay [Newsday, Feb. 28, 2006]
At Fountain and Seaview… The 911 Call, Imette St. Guillen [Huff's Crime Blog, Mar. 3, 2006]
Grad Student's Murder Scares City [Gothamist, Mar. 1, 2006]
Secrets From Within - Imette St. Guillen, A Beautiful Angel Always [nvfc.us]
In Memoriam: Imette St. Guillen [nealmeister, Mar. 2]
TOPIC: Imette St. Guillen [sopebocks]
NYC Subway Map [onNYturf.com]
NYC Subway Station Map [MonkeyHomes.com]
New York City Traffic Web Cams [Alkemis.com]
Profiling is Junk Science [TJN]