The killer of an elderly Trinidadian woman found riddled with stab wounds in the Bronx on Sunday, tried to torch her home to cover the crime, NYPD stated.
With Lila Ramsaran’s body still in the house on Cranford Avenue near Hill Avenue in Wakefield at about 9:30 p.m. Sunday, her killer turned on the gas on the stove, tampered with the gas line and lit candles, sources told the New York Daily News.
Someone smelled gas seeping from the home and called 911. Cops then found Ramsaran, 69, who’d been repeatedly stabbed.
Firefighters doused the candles and cut off the gas before the house could blow, sources said.
Neighbours said they didn’t hear any screams or sounds of a struggle coming from the home.
“It looked to me like an inside job,” neighbour Leslie Garden said. “There were no signs of forced entry. It’s a shame. She was a great lady.”
The retired watch company employee was planning on selling the Bronx house and returning to her native Trinidad to live in her second home there, neighbours and sources said.
Detectives are looking into whether that intention to sell may have been a factor in her murder.
“She wanted to go back,” said friend Liz Martinez, 67. “I don’t know who would want to hurt her like this.”
She was never the same after her only son died in a motorcycle accident 10 years ago, Martinez added.
“Her hair went grey from one day to another. She was a nice lady. She was classy,” she said. “We used to talk over the fence. This is a shock.”
Just hours before Ramsaran was found, a neighbour saw the victim at home cleaning.
“She’s very nice to everyone, very quiet – she doesn’t bother anyone,” said the neighbour, who declined to give his name.
Her relatives told police they didn’t know about any problems she was having, sources said.
Ramsaran’s distraught niece, who declined to give her name, said her aunt complained Saturday about not feeling well.
Her family wanted her to leave the house and go to church Sunday.
“We were calling her today to go to church and there was no answer,” the niece said Sunday night.
“I felt like something was wrong because it’s not like her to not answer the phone.”
One of the tenants called Ramsaran’s family to complain about an odour of gas in the home.
Relatives came over and happened upon the shocking scene.
“We were not expecting to find out anything like this,” the niece said.
Ramsaran grew up in Trinidad but moved to the United States about 40 years ago, her niece said.
She returned to Trinidad but would come back to the Bronx every few months, to check on the place.
“She was upbeat and independent. She did everything for herself. She was very giving and loving towards everybody,” the niece said.