The NYPD is looking for the person or persons behind a horrific crime that left a 74-year-old woman dead in her home this week under puzzling circumstances.
The victim, identified by police as Maria Hernandez, was found by her sister Maria Terrero on Wednesday in her upper west side apartment. According to the NY Post, Terrero became concerned when Hernandez's daughter reported that she had not heard from Hernandez in a while and went to check on her. When she got there, she found the unimaginable: her sister was bound to a chair and gagged, apparently unconscious. Terrero called 911, but Hernandez was pronounced dead at the scene.
As for now, NYPD detectives seem to have more questions than answers. Police describe the apartment as having been "ransacked" but could not identify any items that had been actually taken from the apartment. And although they offered burglary as a possible motive for the crime, they found no signs of forced entry into the apartment, nor were there other signs of trauma on Hernandez.
As of Friday, the medical examiner indicated that asphyxia was the cause of Hernandez's death. According to WCBS, neighbors were also puzzled about who could have possibly targeted Hernandez. "Absolutely the last person I would expect something like that to happen to," said neighbor Patrick Jolicoeur. "I'm stunned. All last night, my wife and I were just head shaking, mind blowing. Couldn't believe that. I live here over 30 years, so it happened to her, could happen to any of us."
NYPD investigators were seen entering and leaving Hernandez's apartment on Friday in an apparent search for clues.
The NY Post did report that police have indicated that someone used a hammer and crowbar to get into the building's basement to steal the building's CCTV system, and investigators are operating on the assumption that whoever did so may be connected to Hernandez's murder.
The building's superintendent told the Post, "I have a lot of elderly ladies in this building. I try to take care of them. Look out for them,” he said. “I know people target older people. I try to teach the younger guys in the building to always look out for the older people here."
Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call NYPD's Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).