Panamanian Cops Question Three in Murder of Wealthy New York Widow

Those who knew Toni Grossi-Abrams, a wealthy Staten Island, N.Y., widow, described her as "an absolutely amazing woman, who put her community first."

Now, that same close-knit community is stunned and grieving after learning that Grossi-Abrams is the victim of a vicious murder that occurred more than 2,000 miles away in exotic Panama City, Panama.

Grossi-Abrams' partially dismembered and badly burned body was discovered Tuesday morning. It had been stuffed in a suitcase and dumped near a Panama City soccer field, miles from the luxury apartment where she was staying.

Her body was identified Thursday by the Panama City medical examiner.

Panamanian investigators believe the local philanthropist and business woman — who would have turned 58 on Wednesday — was murdered in her apartment sometime between late Monday night, when she was last seen, and early Tuesday. They believe the killers then set fire to her body in a crude and brutal attempt to conceal the crime.

Police in Panama City reportedly were questioning three people Thursday in connection with the murder: two Panamanians and an American woman who was renting an apartment owned by the victim. Police also were looking for three more suspects, believed to be Colombians.

The manager of the apartments where Grossi-Abrams was staying reportedly told police he saw someone carrying a large suitcase out of the building early Tuesday morning.

Seth Redlich, Grossi-Abrams' cousin, told WCBS-TV in New York that he was satisfied Panamanian authorities were doing all they could to solve the crime.

"I want to thank the authorities down here in Panama," Redlich said. "I have to say they're doing an amazing job in investigating this crime, this horrible crime, and I'm very confident they'll bring people involved to justice."

Grossi-Abrams was well-known in Staten Island's wealthy St. George section, where she was a resident of the ritzy shorefront Bay Street Landing complex. Records show she owned at least three buildings locally, and was in Panama to open a bed-and-breakfast, her cousin said.

The New York Post reported that Grossi-Abrams was on the board of trustees of the Staten Island Museum, and co-chaired the museum's annual golf outing benefiting the Visiting Nurse Association. She also was a principle of a company called Financial Profiles Investment Services.

Her husband, Martin Abrams, was a wealthy mortgage broker who died in 1998. While she was active in the community, she also appeared to be searching for companionship, and recently joined the online dating service

Her profile partially reads:

"I'm new at this so "HERE WE GO!

"They tell me I have a personality that make the people I'm around feel good, so you may question who is they? Well it's the new friends I have acquired due to a change in my life. I'm a widow and have now had occasion to meet new people. "They" in fact have given me the courage to sign up here.

"I have been sitting here for the last half hour trying to describe myself, and it's not easy. I'm trying to capture me and I can't do it. Let me just put it out there I would like to meet someone who can be a good companion and make me smile.

"It would now be lovely to meet someone to make new memories with. To make it simple I'll state what I would like to have in a companion. Honesty is foremost followed by integrity, and it's always nice to have someone make you smile.

"I have not been in the dating game in over 25 years so I am a bit rusty about the rules. Let me tell you a little about me. I'm a diverse person who can enjoy museums to bowling, my best feature is my flexibility. I can enjoy just about anything with the right person. It can be as simple as a video rental to going to a play. If you are that person, give me a wink. Just an FYI, the photos are recent. Thank you for reading my profile."