New Yorker Finds Roommate Dead, Second Time in a Year

For the second time in a year, a man who lives in downtown Manhattan's trendy SoHo district has discovered a roommate dead in the same bedroom.

Detectives were questioning a suspect on Thursday in the latest case — the stabbing of a woman whose decaying body was found by the man on Wednesday.

Last June, the man, whose name was not released, discovered his previous roommate dead in the third-floor, two-bedroom flat on Crosby Street. Authorities concluded the woman died of a narcotics overdose.

Police said the suspect being questioned Thursday was a former boyfriend of the 36-year-old victim, Denise Deperrie.

The boyfriend had been arrested early this month on charges he assaulted Deperrie in the SoHo apartment on July 30 by punching her and breaking her nose, and using a sword to cut her leg, chin and neck, authorities said. The sword was never recovered.

A judge ordered the suspect held on $10,000 bail and issued a restraining order. But he was released from jail on Aug. 9 because, without the cooperation of the victim, prosecutors had failed to get an indictment.

"We had been trying to get her to come in, but had been unsuccessful," said district attorney spokeswoman Barbara Thompson.

The victim's roommate recalled that the pair had argued in the apartment late last week, said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. It was the last time he saw her alive.

This week, after smelling a foul odor, the man tried to make the stench go away by cleaning the apartment, police said. When that did not work, he entered his roommate's bedroom and found the body.

Police said it appeared Deperrie had been stabbed three times in the chest. Results of an autopsy were pending.

Detectives tracked down the suspect after he telephoned the victim's sister and told her he was checking himself into a hospital mental ward, Kelly said.