Image: Imette St. Guillen
Courtesy Boston Latin High School  /  AP
Imette St. Guillen was found brutally murdered on Saturday in New York.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 3/2/2006 6:38:18 PM ET 2006-03-02T23:38:18

As authorities investigated the gruesome murder of a New York graduate student, donors contributed $42,000 for information about the woman’s killer, authorities said Thursday.

Imette St. Guillen, a student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, was raped, mutilated and strangled on Saturday.

“Today would have been Imette’s 25th birthday,” St. Guillen’s family said in a statement Thursday. “While we are dealing with the difficulty of finalizing arrangements for her services, we do not want that to overshadow the meaning of the day. We plan on celebrating Imette’s life with family and friends by sharing stories about her life.”

The rewards package for information about St. Guillen’s killer includes $10,000 from the New York City mayor’s office and $2,000 from Crime Stoppers. Various donors also contributed $30,000 through John Jay College. They included St. Guillen’s ex-boyfriend and fellow John Jay student Ryan Kocher, several New York-based newspapers reported on Thursday.

Police interviewed Kocher and have ruled him out as a suspect, the New York Daily News reported.

Police have been studying security tapes from the area where St. Guillen spent her last night out with friends. One tape shows her talking to a female friend about 3 a.m. Saturday outside a Manhattan bar. The two can be seen parting ways, with the friend leaving by cab, police said.

St. Guillen’s body was found on the side of a remote road in Brooklyn. Packing tape masked her entire face. A sock had been stuffed in her mouth, and her body was wrapped in a floral bedspread.

Quilt could be key evidence
Officials think the quilt St. Guillen was wrapped in could be key to the investigation, believing the fitted, king-size floral bedspread wrapped around the body could have come from a nearby hotel or motel.

St. Guillen’s genitals had been lacerated and hair was cut short, MSNBC’s Dan Abrams reported on Wednesday.

Investigators theorize the killer was a stranger who lured St. Guillen out of The Falls, the lower Manhattan bar where she was last seen early Saturday. But no suspects have been identified.

St. Guillen had been at The Pioneer, another bar, with a friend, earlier in the evening, investigators said.

Later Saturday, authorities received an anonymous 911 call from a man who gave the location of St. Guillen’s body — and nothing more. Police traced the call to a public phone at a diner about a mile from where the body was discovered in a patch of weeds, and six miles from where she was last seen alive.

Investigators have tried to locate the caller, thinking he may have been involved in the crime and called out of remorse.

NBC News, The Associated Press, the New York Post, the New York Daily News, and MSNBC's Dan Abrams contributed to this report.

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