Friday, December 30, 2005

Tragic holiday discovery

Over the years, many details of the Jacqueline Smith case have been lost, and the remaining story often is dismissed as an urban legend. But strange and macabre as the story is, it was all too true.

Jacqueline, a 20-year-old fashion designer from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, moved to New York and took an apartment with two other women. She began spending more and more time at the home of Thomas G. Daniels, age 24, eventually all but moving in with him.

When Jackie's father arrived for a visit on December 30, 1955, he got Daniels and together they went to the police to report Jackie missing. The police were quickly suspicious of Daniels and began to question him more closely. Daniels finally told police that Jackie had gone into the bathroom and stabbed herself to death due to his refusal to marry her, and that he had dumped her body in the Hudson River.

In December, Jackie had told Daniels that she was pregnant. Daniels did not want to marry Jackie and instead arranged for a scrub nurse, Leobaldo Pejuan, to perform an abortion at Daniels' apartment on Christmas Eve. After performing the abortion, Pejuan became alarmed at Jackie's condition, and summoned Dr. Ramiro Morales, who told him that Jackie was dead.

Daniels and Pejuan cut Jackie's body into pieces and took it to Pejuan's home, where over the next several days they cut into as many as 50 pieces, which they wrapped in Christmas paper and disposed of in trash cans along side streets off Broadway, from 72nd to 80th.

Police investigated, and found medical instruments in Pejuan's apartment. The entire story eventually came out, with Pejuan pleading guilty and testifying against Daniels. Pejuan was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison, and Daniels was sentenced to 8 years.

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