A young Brooklyn woman believed to be the victim who was brutally dismembered this week had been regularly battered by a sadistic boyfriend — and was plotting her escape for a new life at the time of the grisly crime — her friend and neighbor told the Daily News on Thursday.
A meat cleaver was found near the 21-year-old victim, with her severed remains discovered stuffed inside suitcases, after Wednesday complaints of a stench from her gore-covered apartment brought police to the gruesome crime scene, authorities said.
Cops did not immediately name the victim as they awaited autopsy results.
But building resident Stephanie Harris identified the woman as her friend, saying the last time she saw her alive was on Saturday. Harris recounted a horrifying litany of abuse inflicted on the victim by her missing boyfriend.
“He broke her ribs, her legs, a couple months ago,” Harris, 33, told The News. “She came back, she was on crutches. And he broke her apartment down, broke the TVs in her apartment. And I cried to her, like ‘Listen, I don’t want to see you on the news.’
“He always said, ‘The only way you get out is when your mother’s gonna bury you, b---h.’”
On another occasion, the slender, small woman — barely 5 feet tall — was publicly beaten in a building hallway, Harris recalled.
Security guards entered the apartment Wednesday to “see blood all over the place” after a man believed to be her boyfriend initially refused to let them inside for a wellness check on the victim, said NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig.
Police sources indicated the boyfriend, carrying a duffel bag, then disappeared with a pal from the Linwood St. building only moments before the mutilated body was discovered. No arrests were made in the killing.
A second neighbor recalled exiting his apartment last month to see a blood trail leading from the victim’s apartment to the elevator.
“There were a lot of issues, a lot of noise and banging,” the man said of the couple. “Lots and lots of blood ... It was usually at nighttime. You hear very loud screaming. Six times (the cops) came here.”
An NYPD spokesperson said Thursday it was unclear if they had responded to the apartment in the past.
The woman had an order of protection filed against the boyfriend, barring him from being at her apartment, according to a police source, and Essig declined to theorize about a motive for the murder.
Harris said the victim’s boyfriend of about four years ignored the order, even as the woman shared her fears and plans to flee. Harris said she heard banging on the victim’s door around 2 a.m. Sunday, followed by a loud series of booms coming from inside the apartment.
“She seemed down,” Harris said of their last meeting. “You know, like the world is on your shoulders? She had her head down.”
According to Harris, the woman recently spoke about escaping the building and her boyfriend even as she apparently declined to identify the man when police were called about the assaults.
“She said, ‘I can’t wait to get away ... After this year, I’m leaving, I gotta go. I feel like my time is up,’” recalled Harris. “That was two weeks ago, she said that.”
The city Medical Examiner’s office will conduct an autopsy to determine exactly how the woman died, while Essig said police were reviewing building video for the past month to see “who had access to that apartment.”
The building included 10 units for people previously jailed on Riker’s Island, and the victim was living in one of the Housing Plus apartments for women in crisis. Harris said the victim, who was working and going to school, was trying to better herself and find a new place.
Harris said she was shocked after getting a look at her friend’s home-turned-crime scene after police arrived.
“It was like something in a movie,” she said. “Not something you see in real life. Blood everywhere, it was nasty. You could imagine what happened to her. She fought for her life, cause there was blood like splattered.”
Harris said only the arrival of the super thwarted the killer’s plan of escaping from the scene of the crime.
“He thought he was going to get away with it, by putting her in the suitcase and getting rid of it,” said Harris. “If they would’ve never done the wellness check, he probably would have walked out of that building with the suitcases.”