Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Manhunt Widens In Astoria FIT Student Slaying

From the Queens Gazette by LIZ GOFF:

Police last week said they have interviewed and cleared several men who accompanied an Astoria coed to a party in Long Island City just hours before her brutal murder.

Sources said investigators believe that someone followed Carmen Saldana-Mundo to her home on 47th Street after the party. Investigators believe Saldana-Mundo partially opened the door to her apartment and the killer pushed his way in, breaking a chain on the door.

Saldana’s mother discovered her daughter’s body at about 10 p.m. on July 12 after returning from a weekend job cleaning houses in the Hamptons. The mother told police she tried calling her daughter before she arrived at their apartment at 47-17 30th Ave. but got no answer. When she arrived at the apartment, Saldana noticed the door was ajar, police sources said.When the mother walked into the apartment, she found the security chain lying on the floor, apparently torn from the wall by the killer. The mother called out to her daughter, and when the young woman failed to respond Susana Saldana went to her daughter’s bedroom, where she made the grisly discovery. “She touched her daughter’s feet and they were cold,” said an uncle, Juan Guerra.

Police sources said it does not appear that robbery was a motive for the killing. While the chain was broken from the door, indicating the killer pushed the door in, there were no signs that it was a robbery gone wrong since nothing was missing, the sources said.

Footage from a surveillance camera at the building where the party was held shows Saldana leaving alone at about 1:30 a.m., Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. Investigators believe that a person followed her home to Astoria, and have questioned several partygoers and the host. Police are tracking down everyone who attended the party in their search for the killer, Kelly said.

Police widened the search for the killer after finding a message posted on Saldana’s computer just days before her death that hinted she had a stalker. Sources said Saldana wrote on July 10, “Ain’t that a shame. The guy that does like me I don’t like but won’t leave me alone and the guy that I do like has no clue that I like him. I think I’ll survive.” Sources said she followed up that message three days before she was found dead with another, bizarre message: “OMG am being pimped out by my boss LOL crazy noche.” Sources said it is unclear if she was referring to her waitress job or her internship at Complex Magazine.

The city medical examiner ruled Saldana’s death was caused by asphyxiation. Police sources said it appears that the killer strangled Saldana with one hand around her throat, while clamping his other hand over her mouth.
Saldana grew up in the Astoria neighborhood and recently returned to live with her mother after breaking up with her boyfriend, family members said. Neighbors described Saldana, a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, as a “sweet, really nice girl”.

Saldana’s parents, both Mexican immigrants, are divorced. Both were planning to return to live in Mexico, family members said.

Saldana’s body was flown home to her native Mexico on July 17 for burial.

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