Police have dug up the footpath outside a New York apartment block to analyse a bloody footprint for clues, after a pregnant woman was killed in a sickening attack.
Jennifer Irigoyen, 35, was heard screaming, “He’s got a knife! He’s going to kill the baby!” as she was dragged down the stairs and stabbed to death in the lobby of her building in Ridgewood, Queens.
A trail of bloody footprints was found leading from the apartments down the street after the knifing at 1am Sunday morning. Police cordoned off the entrance to the building and dug up the piece of the footpath to take it for analysis.
On Monday, security staff were obtaining CCTV footage from the third floor for review and blood was being cleaned from the apartment and lobby as police said the case was believed to be a domestic incident.
Detectives are reportedly looking to speak to the boyfriend of Ms Irigoyen, who was five months pregnant.
The real estate agent for Crosstown Apartments also had a son from a previous relationship, who is now staying with the grandmother. The father is not a suspect.
Her family posted a heartfelt message online after her tragic death. “There are no exact words to describe the pain that her loss has brought to our family,” they wrote. “Jenny Irigoyen was a daughter, sister, cousin, mother, and friend. If you ever had the pleasure of interacting with her, I am sure that laughter dominated that interaction.
“She loved to laugh, joke, and just be her silly self. She was extremely talented and tried her best to share her many talents with the world. She was a graceful salsa dancer and teacher, classical pianist, enjoyed interior design, and followed her passion in becoming a real estate agent.
“As her family members, we cannot fathom the fear and anguish that she must have felt during her final moments. It is a thought that continues to chip away at our hearts. She did not deserve this. She deserved to be happy. She deserved to be loved. She deserved to raise her son.”
Building superintendent Lisa Raymos told news.com.au: “She was a beautiful person.
“Very bubbly, very nice, I mean, forget it … it’s a loss. My condolences to the family.”
She said it was a “terrible” thing to happen in the building, where Ms Irigoyen had lived for a year. “That’s a human being,” said Ms Raymos. “It’s a baby, it’s not only one but two people.”
She said the other tenants in the block were “hanging in there.”
The superintendent said the CCTV footage showed Ms Irigoyen was stabbed in the stomach first. Police said she was stabbed several times in the stomach and neck.
Chamir Harrisnor, a nurse who lives in the building, said she got home from her night shift on Sunday about 9am to find the entrance to the apartments taped off and swarmed by about 10 police cars and a horde of reporters.
“It is very scary,” the 31-year-old told news.com.au. “I’ve been here for a year and I’m from Long Island and it’s as quiet.
“Being that it was a domestic incident from what I hear, hearing that makes me feel better.”
Alex Jovanovski, who works at a deli next door, told news.com.au that it was mostly young people and families who lived in the building. “I see people every day with children,” he said. “It’s a safe area. I’m shocked, it’s crazy.”
Family members posted tributes to on Facebook following Ms Irigoyen’s death. “You weren’t just my cousin but more of a sister!” said Yeseira Irigoyen. “We all are sisters … all we can share is our memories we all have with each other, lots of laughter.
“Your spirit will always live in us! You will be deeply missed. Rest in paradise my beautiful cousin. May justice be served!”
Another relative, Yadi “Jay” Irigoyen, posted: “Words can’t explain the ache in my heart.
“From two dumb know it all kids, to professional women, to becoming mothers. Today has been a nightmare.
“I always told you just how much I wanted to see you happy. You deserved to be loved. You deserved and earned all your successes. Although, we didn’t leave each other in the greatest terms, I am glad that my last words to you were, I love you.”
A neighbour who only gave her first name, Kristin, yesterday told the New York Post she heard Ms Irigoyen arguing loudly with a man and then the victim “yelling … about wanting to protect her baby.”
Witness Maurice Roman Zereoue, 27, said he heard Ms Irigoyen pleading for the life of her unborn child as the attacker pulled her out of her apartment.
“I seen him dragging her down the stairs,” said Mr Zereoue, who opened his door to the third-floor hallway after hearing the screams. “I seen her hands hanging on to a hallway wall for dear life.”
He said the attacker, who appeared to be in his 30s, was wearing a hoodie and holding what looked like a butter knife.
Mr Zereoue’s girlfriend called the police and he ran down to the lobby, where Ms Irigoyen was gasping for air, her dog by her side. “She was at the bottom of the stairs bleeding out,” said Mr Zereoue. “She had a little dog with her, a pug, I think. Its feet were soaked in blood.”
Ms Irigoyen had defensive wounds on both hands, police said. “She was fighting for her life,’’ said a law-enforcement source.
The mortally wounded woman tried to name her killer but could not get the words out, according to Mr Zereoue. “I asked, ‘Do you know who he was?’ And she kept nodding yes and waving her arm,” he said. “She couldn’t speak.
“I kept telling her, ‘Hang on, hang on, help is coming.’”
Ms Irigoyen was taken to Wyckoff Hospital in Bushwick, Brooklyn, but neither she nor her baby could be saved and she died at 2.30am.
Police found a small pair of black, slip-on shoes in the bloodstained lobby, they revealed.