Peaches and Cherries. That’s how the two murdered and dismembered women became known. As of today, their crimes are still unsolved.
Peaches’ first unsolved crime: the discovery of Peaches.
A hiker could be heard walking along Hempstead Lake State Park in New York on June 28, 1997. It was a sunny Saturday and his only intention was to take his walk leisurely. Families and groups of friends had come out for the day to enjoy the first rays of summer sunshine. However, none of them knew that in that New York park where they were hiding in one of its corners a scene that would break in two the tranquility of an entire city.
Totally unnoticed among the crowd gathered there, the hiker was following his route. His steps advanced at a steady pace but would soon stop when he discovered that a few meters away there was a lump that would attract his attention. Wondering what it could be and approaching with the intention of discovering what it was, he could see how the unknown slowly transformed into a gloomy and nauseating scene. That which seemed to have been hidden with every intention had made sense.
A grim crime scene
Police sirens began to be heard in the distance and it could be sensed how they were getting closer as the characteristic sound that accompanied their lights grew louder and louder. Several police patrols cordoned off the area and surrounded the scene. The striking color of a red towel attracted the main attention and along with it, a pillowcase with a floral print surrounded the naked torso of a woman.
The arms were amputated in their entirety, as were her legs, except that these were severed below the knees. The head was also missing. The only characteristic element that could help identify the woman’s body was a small colored tattoo. An orange peach surrounded by two small green leaves and a bite in it from which emanated two drops that simulated falling. This was all the agents had to start working on the case.
Following a clue that could be key
In a real dead end, the cops decided to photograph that tattoo and make it public. The only hope was that someone might recognize it and give a name to the lifeless body that had been found. They were not finding it easy to develop a hypothesis that would lead to a clear path of investigation and their hopes were placed on the public and how long their memory was long enough to remember the tattoo and relate it to a woman who might one day have crossed their path or been part of it. To the astonishment of some, the phone began to ring.
On the other end of the line could be heard the voice of a man who identified himself as Steve Cullen and was calling from Connecticut. He was the tattoo artist who had done the tattoo that was the only hope the investigators had of identifying the body. Steve described his client as an African-American woman in her early twenties who came to his studio with an aunt and an older cousin. Steve also told the agents that although she was originally from the Bronx, she decided to move to Connecticut temporarily to get away from a series of relationship problems she was having with a young man with whom she had been in a relationship.
The agents knew that other tattoos or skin markings could be found on the other missing limbs that could also help clarify the woman’s identity. However, they also knew that it was a matter of days or weeks before that assumption became a definitive unknown thanks to the course of nature itself.
For its part, time moved forward impassively and almost a decade had to pass since that torso with the characteristic tattoo was found, for everything to awaken again. Another disastrous finding that would make the wall in front of those researchers become even higher.
The second of the unsolved crimes: the discovery of Cherries
A dark-colored suitcase rested peacefully in the vicinity of Harbor Island Park in New York on March 3, 2007. The condition of the suitcase and the way it was found suggested that no one would go looking for it. The curiosity to know what the suitcase contained was greater than preserving the privacy of its anonymous owner.
Nearly a decade had passed since the torso of that woman with the peach tattoo was found 50 kilometers from this new spot, just over an hour’s drive away. The case was still open but hopes had faded over the years. However, the contents of this suitcase would reawaken interest in the case of “Peaches” as he had been nicknamed by the police shortly after the find by having this as a unique and characteristic point of reference.
A grim second crime scene
A new dismembered and decapitated torso occupied the interior of the dark suitcase. The cause of death: a series of stab wounds with a knife that was never found. The victim, on the other hand, appeared to be another African-American woman, but this time some clues found inside the suitcase suggested that she was Spanish-speaking. In addition, this new torso also had a small tattoo with similar characteristics, although this time it was of cherries. Thus, Cherries would be the name adopted by this new investigation.
Together with the torso several articles of clothing were found. On the one hand, a pair of Champion tracksuit pants, a beige Voice T-shirt and a red T-shirt with texts written in Spanish. A more rigorous inspection of each corner of the suitcase led them to find some small papers that had ended up hidden between the seams. When they took them out to analyze them, they noticed that joining each of the pieces of paper was the design of a calendar and the words “five” and “start living“, both written in Spanish. In addition, the suitcase was exclusively branded and only available at Wal-Mart stores.
Unlike Peaches, in this case both legs of this new unknown body could be found floating in the ocean waters of Oyster Bay on Long Island, New York.
The agents had once again hit another dead end. The intuition pointed to the fact that everything could be interrelated because of the different clues that were discovered, and not only because of the tattoos, but also because of the modus operandi and the similarity of both murders. However, they had no thread to pull on to continue investigating. Once again they had in their hands the mortal remains of someone they could not put a name to. Nor could they name the killer. If they were facing only one.
Bone remains found in Jones Beach State Park
The Long Island Press monthly newspaper alerted authorities on December 13, 2016 to the discovery of some skeletal remains in Jones Beach State Park. They were quickly collected and sent to the lab for analysis. At the same time, another alert reached the authorities’ offices, and it was that the bones of another corpse had been found in Cedar Beach. The results were absolutely surprising because the analysis could certify that they were Peaches’ limbs. But in addition, the seconds found confirmed that they were the skeletal remains of a child. This led to further analysis and DNA would play an important role, certifying that the remains belonged to those of a mother and her own child.
This would be, to date, the end of the case.
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