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Friends, Colleagues Stunned By Long Island Church Singer’s Death

Hunt Continues For Killer Who Took Life Of Saundra Simonee, 59

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WESTBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Stunned reaction continued Tuesday from friends of Long Island church singer Saundra Simonee, whose body was found dumped in a parking lot last week.

As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, the hunt for the killer who took Simonee’s life also continued Tuesday. Her body was found last Friday.

Terry Arrigo, Simonee’s voice coach, said her voice was unmatchable.

“Everyone loved her,” Arrigo said. “She had a beautiful voice.”

Arrigo said she can’t imagine who would do harm to the talented 59-year-old singer.

“She was never the kind of person who you would expect to be involved in anything underhanded,” Arrigo said.

Arrigo and church choir members at St. Pius in Plainview were stunned to learn Simonee was found dead Friday. Her body was found in the parking lot of The Birches apartment complex in Bay Shore around 9:15 a.m. that day

Simonee’s body was discarded alongside a trash dumpster in the parking lot, 25 miles away from her East Norwich home. Relatives said she lived for decades on Long Island’s north shore and had no connection to the south shore town.

For decades, Simonee sang the National Anthem at the graduation for the Nassau Board of Cooperative Education technical education center, where she taught cosmetology for 36 years.

Colleagues called Simonee an inspiring educator.

“The students really enjoyed her,” said Nassau BOCES District Supt. Dr. Thomas Rogers. “Teaching was her passion.”

Simonee had just received her Ph.D. in education, with dreams of becoming a school superintendent herself.

“This woman got the Ph.D. she was longing for – I’m saying longing for,” Arrigo said. “Here is a woman who got the Ph.D. and is not going to enjoy it.”

Simonee is survived by a teenage son and grown daughter, whom friends said she adopted and struggled to raise on her own as a single mother.

Her grand-niece is hoping an arrest is made soon.

“She was awesome,” said Tiara Abbott. “She tried to help everyone out.”

Police have not yet released the cause of Simonee’s death as they hunt for the killer.

Meanwhile, grief counselors are onsite at the Barry Technical Education Center in Westbury where Simonee taught.

Anyone with information on the case was asked to call the Suffolk County Police Homicide Squad, at (631) 852-6392, or place an anonymous call to Crime Stoppers at (800) 220-TIPS.

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