Woman's body is set on fire in New York City Complex: police

Officers outside the apartment building in the East Harlem neighbourhood of New York.
Officers outside the apartment building in the East Harlem neighbourhood of New York.PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - Victor Ortiz was taking the trash to the incinerator at his Manhattan apartment building on Tuesday morning (May 9) when he saw a man dragging a body in a black garbage bag by its feet.

Mr Ortiz, 52, a resident of the DeWitt Clinton Houses in East Harlem for six years, went back to his apartment and told his brother, who called 911. It was about 6am.

About five minutes later, the smell of smoke filled the hallway, said Mr Ortiz, a livery cabdriver. He said he could tell that the body had been set on fire.

Emergency workers arrived to find the body in flames in the ninth floor stairwell of the 105th Street building, a result of an unusually chilling homicide, according to the police.

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The victim, identified by the police as Ms Shantee Nakhid, 23, was declared dead at the scene.

The police said it appeared that the woman had been killed in another part of the complex on Park Avenue, and her body was dragged across the street.

Blood from the woman's body had stained the building's elevators, hall and lobby, leading police officers to the Park Avenue complex, where they found the man they believed to be the suspect in a 12th-floor apartment, said Christopher McCormack, a deputy chief with the New York Police Department, at a news conference.


The Dewitt Clinton Houses in the East Harlem neighbourhood of New York. PHOTO: NYTIMES

When police officers were able to enter the apartment, they found the man bleeding from his wrists and neck from what they described as self-inflicted cuts in an apparent suicide attempt.

"They rendered him aid. They saved him," Mr McCormack said.

A woman, a man and a boy were also in the apartment, which the police said was the suspect's home.

The police have not released the name of the victim or the suspect, who was in critical condition at Harlem Hospital Center. And they did not say if they knew of a motive for the killing. The three people in the apartment were being interviewed, the police said.

Ms Shakira Jefferson, a resident of the housing complex, said she knew the suspect and said that he had been depressed after recently losing a job.

She said she had seen the suspect on Sunday (May 7) at a playground with his daughter.

Ms Ashlynn Rome, 22, a resident of the fifth floor of the building where the body was found, was leaving to pick up breakfast around 9am when she noticed a police vehicle parked outside.

She said a pool of blood was in one of the elevators and more blood was splattered around.

She said she wondered if the man had brought the body into the building through a back stairwell, which opens to a park behind the building.

The door is never locked, she said.

"It's just crazy," said Ms Rome, who lives with her four-year-old daughter and her boyfriend.

"Kids are on their way to school, and this is happening."