NEW YORK – She was a young graduate student who died in a gruesome way: raped, strangled and left on the side of a remote road in Brooklyn. Beige-colored packing tape masked her entire face. A sock was stuffed in her mouth.
The stark contrast between the promising life of 24-year-old Imette St. Guillen and her ghastly slaying last weekend — and the mystery surrounding her final hours — perplexed and alarmed investigators, who fear her killer may strike again.
St. Guillen had been set to graduate this semester from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. She graduated with honors from George Washington University in Washington.
"She was kind, she was loving and she wouldn't hurt anyone," her mother, Maureen, said Tuesday outside her home.
Investigators theorize the killer may have abducted St. Guillen, who witnesses said appeared to be alone when she left The Falls, the lower Manhattan bar where she was last seen early Saturday. But no suspects have been identified.
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. They also have canvassed motels and hotels, believing the fitted, king-size floral bedspread wrapped around the body could have come from one of the establishments. So far, neither lead has panned out.
St. Guillen's family has appealed for the public's help in finding the killer.
"She was a beautiful girl, I mean beautiful inside also," her mother said.