The wife and brother-in-law of a coffee bar pioneer who was fatally stabbed in New York City more than 20 years ago were arrested and charged with his murder Tuesday.
Roslyn Pilmar, 60, and her brother Evan Wald, 43, have been accused of brutally murdering Howard Pilmar. Pilmar was found fatally stabbed outside of his office in midtown Manhattan on March 27, 1996, the New York Post reported.
Wald and Pilmar were both charged with second-degree murder. Wald, who was arrested in Fairfax, Va., was in the process of being extradited to New York.
Officials said Pillar, 40, was stabbed over 20 times in the chest, neck and back -- possibly several times after he'd already died. Pillar’s wallet, which contained $200, was not taken at the time of his death, according to the New York Daily News.
"It's a circumstantial case, but it's one of the most compelling cases I've ever seen," Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Lederer said. "This defendant was asking for keys to the office the night before. She was asking for the security code in the office itself."
Howard’s family reportedly suspected Roslyn Pilmar in her husband’s death because the dental hygienist owed $200,000 she had allegedly embezzled from a previous employer.
“On the way to the funeral, she said something to me I’ll never forget,” Carol Pilmar, Howard’s stepmom told The New York Post. “She said ‘You know, divorce wasn’t in our vocabulary.’ That’s because she wouldn’t gain anything from divorce,” Pilmar said.
Pilmar was the owner of King Group, which generated about $14 million a year. Roslyn Pilmar received around $2 million in life insurance following her husband’s death. She also received custody of their son, Philip, Pilmar’s businesses, a New York City apartment and a summer house.
About two years ago, Manhattan investigators re-interviewed more than 30 people which led to more information being uncovered. A source told the New York Post some witnesses “became more talkative” when discussing the case.
Wald’s blood was discovered in Pilmar’s office following the slaying, but he said it was from a cut he suffered in the office. Prosecutors claimed Wald and Howard had a “contentious relationship” and Roslyn needed money.
“We’re going to kill Howard,” Wald told Roslyn the night before his murder, according to Lederer.
Fran Hoffinger, Roslyn Pilmar’s lawyer, said the evidence is less than definitive.
“The evidence the DA is presenting is no different from what they had in 1996," Hoffinger said. "The fact that somebody needs money doesn't necessarily lead to a homicide. There's a bit of a leap here.”
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said the prosecution hopes to "bring closure to Mr. Pilmar's loves ones."
"In 1996, this murder shocked New Yorkers, mystified law enforcement, and the killers eluded justice," Vance said. "But, in the more than two decades that have passed since Howard Pilmar was brutally stabbed to death, prosecutors in my office's Cold Case Unit and NYPD detectives never forgot this shocking crime."