’03 graduate found murdered in New York City

New York City detectives are still searching for clues in the gruesome murder of GW graduate Imette St. Guillen, whose body was found last Saturday night wrapped in a quilt in Brooklyn off the Belt Parkway.

St. Guillen, a 24-year-old graduate student at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, graduated magna cum laude from GW in 2003 with a major in criminal justice.

“She always wanted to be a forensic and crime scene scientist, which makes this horribly ironic in a way,” said Candy Bogatz, St. Guillen’s roommate during their sophomore and junior years. “It was her dream.”

The New York Times reported Wednesday that investigators are now attempting to trace the anonymous 911 caller who reported the body at 8:43 p.m. on Sunday, 17 hours after St. Guillen had disappeared. She had been at a club on the Bowery from Friday night to Saturday morning.

Because St. Guillen’s body was found in a secluded location, laden with garbage and hardly visible from the street, police believe the caller may have seen the body being placed there or could have been involved with the murder.

St. Guillen’s head, hands, feet and mouth were covered by packing tape, a sock had been forced into her throat and her hair had been cut when officials found the body. There were also signs of sexual assault and strangulation, The Times reported.

“It’s a very, very gruesome murder that has impacted … any former student from GW, regardless of how long ago they graduated,” said Tracy Schario, GW’s director of Media Relations.

“As gruesome as the details are, let’s focus on what a positive member of the GW and Latino community she was,” said Eduardo Lara, a 2000 GW graduate who worked with St. Guillen in the Organization of Latin American Students.

Imette served on the OLAS Executive Board as treasurer her sophomore and junior years, and she was the group’s first vice president her senior year, according to the Multicultural Student Services Center.

OLAS is planning to pay tribute to St. Guillen at its annual Noche de Cultura event in April, said Paulina Abaunza, president of OLAS, in an e-mail.

“She was someone who just lit up a room,” said Michael Trask, another GW graduate and former OLAS member. “She always kept things in perspective.”

Many OLAS alumni have reconnected over the tragic news, Trask said, and five from the D.C.-area are traveling together to Boston for St. Guillen’s funeral service on Saturday.

St. Guillen, a Boston native, graduated from the prestigious Boston Latin high school before coming attending GW and eventually John Jay College in Manhattan.

The Times reported St. Guillen’s family had already encountered tragedy when her father died of AIDS 14 years ago.

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