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Cold Case Connection? Police Probe If Same Suspect Killed Bronx & Yonkers Teens

Cops Investigate Link Between Suspect James Martin & Pair Killed A Decade Ago
Laurie McKissick (L), Marleny Cruz (R) (credit: Personal Photos)

Laurie McKissick (L), Marleny Cruz (R) (credit: Personal Photos)

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YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There is a possible break in a 13-year-old murder case in Yonkers, just one day after an arrest was made in a similar killing.

Both victims were friends and killed one year apart. Detectives now say the cases, which were investigated separately, may be the cruel work of the same killer, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported Friday.

On the Yonkers homicide board, it is listed as cold case number 6 of 56. Laurie McKissick was found along Bronx River Road on June 10, 1999.

At the scene of the crime in Yonkers, detectives were able to find optimism following the recent connection made between the cases of 14-year-old Marleny Cruz and McKissick.

“We’re very excited about this,” Yonkers Police Lt. Joseph Monaco said.

Earlier in the he week, James Martin, 40, was charged in the 1998 killing of Cruz. As it turns out, Cruz and McKissick were friends who lived at the same group foster home in the Bronx.

CBS 2’s Young has now learned Martin is now on the cops’ radar for the Yonkers killing as well.

“With this popped up, we’re going to look at him and we’re gonna see if he is the person responsible for Laurie’s death,” said Yonkers Police Det. John Geiss.

It wasn’t New York police who made the connection, but McKissick’s natural mother — Marjorie Gabriel — who is now a limo driver in Queens.

“Marleny was killed a year prior. My daughter knew her and in a similar fashion she was also killed,” Gabriel said.

“When I found about Marleny Cruz, it was from Laurie McKissick’s mom and once she gave me that information, I started following it in that direction.” Det. Geiss added.

Both teens vanished from the Bronx, blocks from the suspect’s home. Both were runaway foster kids with troubled lives and both were strangled more than a decade ago, police said.

It seems the cases just got lost. Yonkers cops said better computer databases have hopefully fixed the problem.

“Today it would be a lot harder for something like this — a case like this — to fall through the cracks,” Lt. Joseph Monaco said.

The sudden movement in the case helps, but not much.

“He didn’t just rob her of her life, but he robbed me of watching her grow. She would’ve been 30,” Gabriel said.

DNA re-testing of the McKissick evidence began Friday at the Westchester County Crime Lab in Valhalla.

Results could take weeks.

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