Tuesday, March 2, 2006
Clues to sicko's mind
BY ADAM LISBERG
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
The sick details of how Imette St. Guillen was tortured, killed and dumped offer terrifying glimpses of the 24-year-old woman's final hours.
But forensic experts say they also offer a window into the perverted soul of the man who murdered her - and provide valuable clues to help catch him.
"There were things done to her while she was alive and when she was dead that were unnecessary to simply commit a murder," said former New York chief medical examiner Michael Baden. "The police have a lot of stuff to work with."
THE TAPE: St. Guillen's entire face was covered with thick, horizontal strips of tan plastic packing tape. It was an almost ritual form of wrapping that surely plays a role in her killer's sexual fantasies, said Vernon Geberth, an expert homicide investigator and former NYPD commander. "He's not going to see her face, but he's going to see her labored breathing," he said. "He's rendering the victim completely vulnerable and helpless, then enjoying the victim's suffering."
THE SOCK: A man's white tube sock was found jammed into St. Guillen's throat. Her broken fingernails - some of which may be mixed with bits of her attacker's skin - are a hint that she tried to fight back, and the sock may simply have been a tool to keep her quiet. "That was not necessary to do what he did to her body," Geberth said. "That's a utility to prevent screaming."
THE BLANKET: St. Guillen's corpse was wrapped in a bright, floral-patterned blanket, similar to a motel-style bedspread. The killer surely left hairs or fibers on the decade-old blanket, experts said, and its origin can help pinpoint who would have obtained it. "The key to this investigation is finding out which no-tell motel that blanket came from," Geberth said. "There's trace evidence that he could not possibly have avoided leaving on there."
THE HAIRCUT: St. Guillen's long, brown hair had been cut short on one side by the time she was found, but whether her killer wanted her hair as a souvenir was unknown. Her body also bore other injuries that may have been inflicted intentionally, not just in the process of her abduction and murder. "When people not only kill somebody but mark up the body, either before or after death, they are expressing more than the urge to kill somebody," said forensic psychologist Marta Weber. "They are expressing rage and an urge to defile."
THE PHONE CALL: Cops learned about St. Guillen's murder from an anonymous 911 call from a Linden Blvd. diner pay phone several blocks away, telling cops where to find her body. Experts say the male caller could have been a witness who was doing his own nefarious business and didn't want to be identified, an accomplice who got cold feet - or a killer who wanted the world to see his deviant handiwork. "If it's the perpetrator, there's a possibility that he's taunting the police," Baden said. "He knew the area. This isn't anybody from Boston who came down to kill her. This is homegrown."
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