Police: Missing cleaning woman found bound and gagged, cross over mouth
By Marlene Naanes
The body of a missing Manhattan cleaning woman was discovered kneeling, bound and gagged, in an office-building air duct, her gold crucifix caught in the duct tape around her mouth, police said yesterday.
Investigators are unsure if the cross was placed there intentionally or if its chain was inadvertently caught in the tape during the brutal killing of Eridania Rodriguez, 46, an Inwood resident and mother of three. Other chilling details continued to emerge this weekend as the medical examiners office officially ruled the death a homicide yesterday.
The woman died from asphyxia from the tape around her mouth and head, obstructing her airway, said medical examiners office spokeswoman Ellen Borakove. The womans ankles and wrists also were bound with duct tape, her hands behind her back, police have said.
The medical examiners office had not officially identified the body yesterday evening, but police believe it was that of Rodriguez, who was last seen at work at 2 Rector Street in the Financial District on Tuesday night.Investigators found the body Saturday on the 12th floor of the building where Rodriguez worked as a cleaning woman. The stench of decomposition and a one-foot pool of blood on the floor near an air duct led officers to the corpse.
The woman was still wearing her uniform, her shoes placed neatly nearby, police said.
Police have questioned several people but have not identified a suspect. One of those questioned, Joseph Pabon, 26, is an elevator operator in the building and had a key to the 12th floor, which has restricted access, according to the New York Post.
He has denied involvement in the murder and was released from police questioning when he asked for a lawyer. Police told the New York Daily News that Pabon, of Staten Island, cried when detectives asked him about Rodriguez, had scratches on his hands and arms and could not explain why he left work early the day the woman was reported missing.
That day, police found her cleaning cart on the eighth floor and her street clothes and purse in her locker.