A murder, as heard by neighbors

As a follow-up to our earlier entry, here is the New York Times’ story on the murder and near decapitation of Sarah Coit by Raul Barrera early Sunday morning in the apartment they shared on the Lower East Side. The article makes it clear that the victim was still alive when she was carried out of the apartment, and that’s how so many neighbors saw the horrifying extent of her wounds.

Unseen Woman’s Cries, Then a Fatal Stabbing

The woman’s screams for help began shortly after 2 a.m. on Sunday. Several people along Clinton Street, on the Lower East Side, flocked to their windows and peered out, seeing nothing.

“She was screaming for quite a while,” said Yoost Bohnen, 33, a tourist from the Netherlands who was staying nearby. “She was in a lot of distress.”

Mr. Bohnen said he heard people yelling back into the darkness, in a failed attempt to locate the woman making those panicked sounds.

The sounds, the police later learned, were coming from Apartment 6 of 63 Clinton Street, where a young woman, Sarah Coit, lived with her boyfriend, Raul Barrera.

The police said that Mr. Barrera, 33, stabbed Ms. Coit, 23, to death.

Less than half an hour afterward, Mr. Barrera appeared at the Ninth Precinct station house, about 10 blocks away, to turn himself in, the authorities said. He still had blood on him as he told the police that he had fought with his girlfriend and did not know whether she was still conscious, the authorities said.

The officers who rushed to the couple’s third-floor apartment at about 2:30 a.m. found Ms. Coit in the living room with multiple stab wounds, including a deep gash to her neck.

As medical workers took Ms. Coit out of the building, a police officer yelled up to the tenants standing in the window, asking them to turn away. It was too late.

“It was so horrifying,” said Briana Andalore, who was in a friend’s apartment.

Ms. Coit was pronounced dead at Beth Israel Hospital. Mr. Barrera was arrested on a charge of murder in the second degree.

The events that led up to the killing were not immediately clear. Neighbors said they knew little about the couple. It does not appear that the police had ever been called to their apartment before because of domestic violence.

Ms. Coit had been a student at Hunter College until about a year ago, a spokeswoman for the college, Meredith Halpern, wrote in an e-mail. Mr. Barrera worked in public relations.

On Sunday afternoon, more than a half-dozen detectives walked up and down the block, past a pawn shop, a furniture store and two restaurants on the ground floor of 63 Clinton Street. Some of the detectives appeared to be looking for surveillance cameras from nearby buildings.

It is not yet clear how many people heard Ms. Coit’s screams, which one witness said lasted for as long as 20 minutes. The police said they received four 911 calls about it.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 11, 2011 01:12 PM | Send

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