NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police are investigating the death of a Bronx mother who sources say was found unconscious with rosary beads stuffed in her throat.
A memorial was growing Wednesday night, outside of the apartment for the mother of three who a police source named as Hellen Hernandez.
A close family friend told CBS2’s Erin Logan that the 33-year-old victim’s teenage son found his mother unconscious and unresponsive in the hallway of her apartment building on Anderson Avenue in the Bronx just before 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
When police officers responded, they found EMS already on the scene trying to resuscitate the woman.
Sources say while performing CPR, emergency responders found rosary beads stuffed down her throat, and she also had bruises and scratches on her face.
She was taken to Lincoln Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
Just an hour earlier, the NYPD responded to a report of an emotionally disturbed person in the street on Jerome Avenue and East 167th Street. When they arrived, they found a naked man who was shouting about the devil. The man turned out to be the victim’s boyfriend, officers had to use a taser to subdue him.
“I don’t know who he is, I just know that she was dating him for what they call a minute now,” family friend Martha Carrasquillo said. “They were trying to keep her away from him but I don’t know what happened.”
“Why do you think someone would ever do something like this to her?” Logan asked.
“Drugs, you know drugs or somebody crazy,” Carrasquillo said.
Witnesses told police they saw the man leave the building on Anderson Avenue where the victim lived prior to his confrontation with police on Jerome Avenue. He was naked when he left the building, witnesses said. Witnesses told police he was acting irrationally and was mumbling about her “being with God now.”
“I saw someone naked by 167th next to the 4 train station. He was walking naked but I really didn’t know what happened,” a neighbor told 1010 WINS’ Andrew Falzon. “He was screaming.”
The man was ranting and incoherent, sources said, and was believed to be under the influence of drugs, sources said.
Police subdued him with a Taser and he was taken to an area hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
Sources tell CBS2 he has 42 prior arrests.
As word got out about Hernandez’s death, neighbors asked, “why her?”
“They deserve to have their mom, their bond with their mom all the time. so for them, i don’t know what they’re going to do without their mom,” Lydia Boating said.
No charges have been filed as yet, though the victim’s boyfriend remains a person of interest in the case.
Carasquillo said her nephew had dated the victim for 20 years and they share three children together.
She’s always considered her a niece.
“Regardless of her ups and downs in her life she was a beautiful person and she always with her boys,” Carasquillo said.
She said her nephew is having a hard time with all of this, but is trying to stay strong for the three children who are all under the age of 17.
The woman’s identity has not been released.
The medical examiner is working to determine the cause of death.