Saturday, November 3, 2012
Though she was a petite woman, Luisa Rodriguez usually carried her newborn daughter by herself, in a large stroller, up four flights of stairs to their apartment in the Kingsbridge neighborhood in the Bronx, neighbors said.
Her boyfriend had moved out several months earlier after repeated episodes of yelling and fighting that were loud enough to be heard on the floors above and below the apartment where Ms. Rodriguez lived for the past year, neighbors recounted. He continued to come around in recent weeks, they said, with more arguments erupting.
“Last weekend, he was screaming at her,” said one neighbor, Senobio Padilla, 53, whose kitchen window faces Ms. Rodriguez’s apartment. “I heard him, I couldn’t hear her.”
But on Friday, there was only silence. Outside the apartment, at 3034 Albany Crescent, which the police had cordoned off, there was a dried puddle of blood on the worn mosaic floor.
Ms. Rodriguez, 32, was stabbed to death inside on Thursday night; she and her baby, Angela, not yet 2 months old, were found under a smoldering mattress that had apparently been set on fire, according to the police. The infant was unconscious and was pronounced dead at Montefiore Medical Center, according to the police. The medical examiner is investigating the cause of death.
Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said on Friday that Ms. Rodriquez’s boyfriend was being questioned. Mr. Browne did not release his name but said that he was 21, that he was the baby’s father and that he had a history of arrests for robbery and assault. He had not been charged with any crime as of Friday evening but was considered a person of interest, the police said.
Outside the tan-brick building on Friday, someone had placed a tall white candle inside a glass sleeve imprinted with the words “guardian angel.” Residents said they were trying to grasp the events, with some of them recalling that they had just seen Ms. Rodriguez carrying the stroller.
Johanny Veloz, who lives on the fifth floor, said she was too upset to sleep. “She was so pretty, she was so tiny,” Ms. Veloz said of the baby.
Mr. Padilla said he was haunted by his last glimpse of the baby, being carried out of the building by a firefighter who placed her on the hood of a car and began trying to revive her with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. “That really touched me,” he said.
Through a shattered window in Ms. Rodriguez’s apartment, there appeared to be remnants of a deadly struggle in the kitchen. Next to an overturned stool, blood had dripped down a refrigerator into a crimson pool on the floor. In another window, there was a mattress and a stack of brightly colored children’s books, including a Sesame Streettitle.