• January 20, 2020
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Queens Chronicle

92-year-old murder victim in S. Richmond Hill may have been sexually assaulted

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Posted: Friday, January 10, 2020 4:01 pm | Updated: 11:36 am, Thu Jan 16, 2020.

A 21-year-old man has been arrested for the midnight murder of a 92-year-old woman in South Richmond Hill last Monday.

The victim showed signs of having been sexually assaulted as well was strangled, police revealed. Evidence of a sex crime is a new development in the troubling case.

Police did not immediately identify the suspect at a press conference at 1 Police Plaza Friday morning announcing the arrest because the exact charges had not yet been determined.

The victim, Maria Fuertes, was a well-known figure in the neighborhood around Liberty Avenue and 127th Street, known to walk the streets late at night making sure stray cats in the area were fed. 

Shortly after midnight on Monday going into Tuesday, police and EMS workers found her "injured and disoriented" on 127th Street, Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said. It was not disclosed how much time elapsed between the attack and when Fuertes was found.

She died several hours later at Jamaica Hospital.

An autopsy Tuesday revealed bruises around her neck and "injuries to her private area," Harrison said.

Surveillance video shows a man following Fuertes as she turned off busy Liberty Avenue onto 127th Street, police said.

A short distance later, the man is seen pushing her to the ground. The pair disappeared from camera view behind a parked car for four or five minutes, police said.

Only the man is seem again, emerging from behind the car and running north on 127th Street, they said.

The man arrested Thursday night was described only as 21 years old and a resident of Queens with a "previous criminal history."

The Queens district attorney was working with police to determine the charges, Harrison said. 

Cops were checking nearby precincts for any similar attacks. But "we think this is an isolated incident," Harrison said Friday.


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