Her murder was something out of Silence of the Lambs, but much worse if possible. Imette St. Guillen was a 24-year-old John Jay College graduate student in the school's Criminal Justice program. She would have graduated in two months and then sought a career identifying criminals by studying the crime scenes they left behind. Now it is her crime scene that has police baffled, and the only known witness,
Last Saturday St. Guillen was in the Bowery area of NYC bar hopping with one or more friends. At 2:30 AM her best friend, a former high school buddy and current high school English teacher, decided to call it quits for the night, but St. Guillen wanted to stay until the 4 AM closing, and then, perhaps, hit another night spot. Evidently St. Guillen, a bright, attractive, reasonable street smart woman was intoxicated and argued with her friend. St. Guillen stayed at the Pioneer Bar as her friend caught a cab home, only to be called 1/2 hour later by the friend to make sure she was alright. St. Guillen said she had moved on to another local bar, but it's here that her trail began to grow cold. We do know, however, that 16.5 hours later an unknown male called 911 from a local diner in Brooklyn and reported a body lying along the road outside of nearby Spring Creek Park. It was there police found the almost unrecognizable nude body of St. Guillen wrapped in a cheap bedspread with colored flowers and leaves, possibly taken from some nearby motel.
Initial investigation revealed that St. Guillen had died of suffocation, in this case her assailant or assailants had bound her hands with wire, tied her feet together with shoestrings, stuffed a sock in her mouth and wrapped her face with clear packaging tape. Her hair had been cut and she had marks or wounds on her chest and her genitals were lacerated, indicating to law enforcement that she had been raped or otherwise sexually assaulted and sodomized. Bruises on her neck provided some evidence of the liberties that her assailant(s) took with her, with her windpipe perhaps crushed while she may have helplessly looked into the face of her murderer through the layers of clear packing tape across her face, this as her killer choked the last breath out of her.
It's been reported that some of her fingernails were broken and her hands were bloodied, suggesting that even in her believed state of intoxication that she fought for her life, a fight she would ultimately lose. At 5' 2", 110 pounds, St. Guillen had an athletic build from her many high school and college sport activities, to including swimming and volleyball. The local NYC medical examiner suggested that this was one of the most horrific murders she had seen, this in a city known for horrific murders. It appears that someone not only wanted to kill St. Guillen, they wanted her to suffer before she died. Basically she was tortured as could only be portrayed in some B grade of slasher movie, the type that Hollywood makes that attract individuals with bizarre sexual fantasies. But Hollywood, of course, does not believe that it contributes to bringing such fantasies to life. You see, slasher type of movies can provide some with the psychological, emotional and visual bridge between an individual's fantasies and his acting out of such fantasies, but that's another issue.
From a profiling perspective, St. Guillen's killer or killers exhibited anger and control -- who ever murdered her wanted to totally dominate another person, someone to act out their rage and anger on, and someone to totally degrade as both a woman and a human being. Her killer(s) certainly succeeded. Whether St. Guillen was kidnapped or simply left a bar with the wrong person, the rest of her night had to have been a living hell with her praying for rescue or death.
Some speculate that it may have been the killer himself (a male voice) that called 911 at 8:30 PM on Saturday night from the local dinner, one that was known to be a place that John Gotti, Jr., made telephone calls from. The caller reported a body alongside the road on Fountain Street in Spring Creek Park, a location where the mob is believed to have disposed of bodies. Because her body was along side the road, authorities must consider whether her assailant wanted her to be found, or had quickly dumped her in the open because he feared someone would see him. Even though she was nude, there may be a wealth of forensic evidence for police to consider.
As in most crimes, there are probably at least four crime scenes to consider, only one of which law enforcement may currently know about. There is the location where she was taken by her assailant(s); there in the location where she was held and assaulted and tortured -- someplace where her murderer(s) felt safe to take precious time with her; then there is the vehicle used to transport her to the park; and, lastly, the body recovery site itself. The killer may have wrapped her body in the blanket to limit the transference of evidence, but this may have helped to retain evidence within the blanket and on the victim's body. Hair, fibers, saliva, sweat, possibly semen, skin under her fingernails and other physical evidence linking the victim to her killer(s) and to other locations may be available to authorities. The autopsy and the crime scene investigation(s) are the victim's last chance to speak for herself, so to speak. The young woman who would have turned 25 this coming Thursday, and who perhaps wanted to be a CSI analyst and study crime scenes, has now become the crime scene herself.
Whoever murdered Imette St. Guillen may have taken advantage of her because of her alleged high state of intoxication, her beauty, or simply her availability. Because of her criminal justice studies she should have known that the late hour, her state of intoxication, her location and her being alone could make her vulnerable to some unknown assailant -- but she, like so many other victims, played the odds and lost. This has no bearing what-so-ever, though, on what happened to her. Some one or more two-legged monster(s) with horrible thoughts in his, her or their heads took advantage of St. Guillen and destroyed a life and a promising career. Some suggest that the crime and the assault on the victim may indicate a gang assault or perhaps reflect the work of an unknown serial killer. If her clothing, purse, etc., are missing, did the killer or killers keep these objects as trophies of his/her or their crime, or were these items simply disposed of to complicate identification of the victim's body? Where did she go after she left the second bar sometime after 4:00 AM? Can surveillance cameras in the area, or perhaps cab records, suggest where she was and where she went and with whom? And if, as reported, no semen was found on or in the victim, does this suggest something about her assailant? Ex-boyfriends, local criminals, and others will be interviewed and eliminated as police press to solve this terrible crime.
There are many questions to be answered, but what is known is that a horribly brutal crime was committed by someone who may have personally and specifically targeted this victim, perhaps because of some perceived slight on her part toward her killer, or was she targeted as a representative of attractive, intelligent women, or was she simply a vulnerable and convenient victim of opportunity, therefore someone totally unknown to her assailant(s)? And was she being stalked and if so, by whom and why? This is a crime that must be solved. Her murder is beyond cruel and unusual, and any monster that commits such a crime could well be capable of striking again, this in a city of millions of potential victims.
Clint Van Zandt is an MSNBC analyst. He is the founder and president of Inc. Van Zandt and his associates also developed , a Website dedicated "to develop, evaluate, and disseminate information to help prepare and inform individuals concerning personal and family security issues." During his 25-year career in the FBI, Van Zandt was a supervisor in the FBI's internationally renowned Behavioral Science Unit at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He was also the FBI's Chief Hostage Negotiator and was the leader of the analytical team tasked with identifying the "Unabomber."