The Unsolved Murder of Sarah Fox
A 2004 NYC Cold Case
On May 19, 2004, Sarah Fox was reported missing after she had gone out jogging in Manhattan the previous afternoon, at Inwood Hill Park which was close to her apartment.
Five days later, her naked body was found in Inwood Hill Park in Northern Manhattan. Her body had been placed on damp leaves with yellow tulip petals and branches from a poplar tree purposefully strewn around her. According to a botanist, the tulips were picked 24-48 hours before her body was found, indicating that the killer returned to the scene of the crime to place them there after he had killed her. Her larynx was crushed, indicating strangulation as the cause of death. She had also suffered a harsh blow to the chest, breaking a rib. The coroner was unable to determine if the victim had been sexually assaulted, though she was left posed with a stick between her legs. One of the M.E.s confirmed that she had been killed on the day she went missing. Her body was discovered by an organized search party made up primarily of acquaintances and family from her New Jersey hometown of Pennsauken as well as law enforcement. The police struggled at first to identify the body as it had been badly decomposed by recent rain but were able to make the connection prior to dental records being used due to the size of the body, the tribal stamp tattoo on her lower back and her hair color. The crime scene did not harbor any signs of struggle, indicating that the attack likely happened on a nearby jogging trail and she had been dragged to where she was found, or it had been washed clean by the recent rain.
Her body was found about 50 yards west of the Henry Hudson Parkway and close to the south side toll plaza of the Henry Hudson Bridge. She was left in an isolated area of the park, near the ravine, where the land had been “left uncut,” dense with vegetation.
Detectives believe that whoever killed Sarah must have had personal knowledge of the park landscape, as it would take someone familiar with the area to have placed her body in such a remote location. They profiled that the killer must be someone who frequents the park such as a jogger, dog walker, cyclist or an individual who lives near the area.
The 21 year old, 5’2, 110 lb strawberry blonde was a talented, energetic Julliard student studying acting. She seemed to be well liked by her friends, family, classmates, roommates and hometown acquaintances. She was an avid jogger and her hometown would often see her stretching and running with her CD player.
Ten days after Sarah’s body was found, a massive search was held in the surrounding crime scene area by police officers, recruits and the park employees. Sarah’s CD player was found and fumed for prints/DNA.
In 2012 a match returned with the same DNA from a chain used during an Occupy Wall Street protest (the chain was used to hold open doors) but was later dismissed as a technician error; the same NYPD technician was at both the Sarah Fox crime scene and Occupy Wall Street and mishandled the evidence, contaminating it with his/her own DNA, according to reports.
- Crushed larynx, asphyxiation (probable COD: choked to death)
- Bones in neck broken
- Bruised chest and broken rib (blow to the chest, most likely to stifle any screams)
- DNA found at the scene, undetermined if Sarah had been sexually assaulted
#1 Suspect to this day: Dimitry Sheinman, a clairvoyant. Dimitry has been on police’s radar from the beginning of the investigation and he remains a suspect nearly 20 years later, despite no concrete evidence to charge him. His neighbors brought his name to the police as he walked his large dog at the park Sarah was murdered in every day and was known to get into arguments with people in the park over his dog being unleashed. During his questioning, he told police he had a vision about what happened to Sarah right after her body was discovered and gave the police details that were never released to the press; he told the police she had a broken rib, was menstruating when she was murdered, a stick had been placed between her legs, and her clothes had been neatly folded and her tampon had been placed on top of them. He was questioned several times but no evidence was found. He did end up spending nearly 2 months in Riker’s Prison after getting into an altercation with another dog owner in the same park (for the record, the guy he punched knew that Dimitry was a suspect and was aggressive toward him and let his dog jump on Dimitry’s pregnant wife). Dimitry moved to South Africa for a few years and came back to the city after having a “major” psychic revelation about who killed Sarah Fox, who he insisted he was in contact with beyond the grave. He claims to be in contact with Sarah and that she’s on his side and wants him to catch her killer. He held an elaborate press conference outside the precinct he was once questioned in and announced that he would be walking into the precinct to hand the detectives the name of Sarah’s killer that came to him in a clairvoyant episode and was also seen by other clairvoyants he knew. The suspect was Sarah Julliard Teacher. In 2014 he held another rambling press conference where he claimed he was in contact with Sarah and spewed the below, according to AudiencesEverywhere.net:
“Sometimes I walk by and she winks at me, you know. And she knows: ‘I know exactly what you’re doing, and I love you.’
“Right now she just looked at me and made a bunch of faces. She knows what’s going on. I can’t speak for her, but she knows exactly what’s going on.”
Sheinman goes on to slip into a reverie about how much he intimidates the man he calls Sarah’s real killer.
“He’s very scared. He’s scared of me. I’ve never communicated with him directly but . . . he’s a disgusting, revolting man […]”
#2. Sarah’s Julliard Teacher. By the time the clairvoyant passed this information on to the detectives, this was already an explored and dead lead. The detectives had interviewed Sarah’s professor in 2004 after watching him dramatically break down at her funeral. His emotional outburst raised red flags to detectives, probably as a sign of remorse, but the professor was subsequently cleared fairly quickly and it was concluded that he was just emotional over the loss of Sarah.
CC’s Speculations on Suspects:
- Sarah Fox had a boyfriend at the time of her murder, and it is unclear through my research if he was ever questioned or cleared. I’m sure he was questioned but according to statistics there is a high probability that Sarah knew her murderer. Like my favorite podcast, Crime Junkie, often says: it’s always the husband/boyfriend. Obviously, that is a hefty generalization, but more often than not the attention of the police is turned toward the victim’s partner.
- NYPD forensic technician: It could have truly been an error in evidence handling, but 2004-2012 is a long time to go without learning from your mistakes/how to properly handle evidence, which is one of the first lessons of the job. It seems too convenient and suspicious to have mishandled two pieces of evidence from two separate scenes. Where were the gloves? Why was DNA found on both Sarah’s CD player and a chain from an Occupy Wall Street protest? Why did the police randomly decide to test a chain from OWS? Were they already suspicious of the technician? The technician’s literal job is to handle crime scene evidence, how was this mishandled twice? Seems too convenient and coincidental to chock it up to incompetence.
- Hometown Acquaintance: It might have been one of the people from the search party; a bus full of New Jersey hometown acquaintances came out to lead the search party with law enforcement and one of those men found the body. Police have a new theory that this may have been done by someone Sarah knew. Typically, strangulation is a personal attack, a crime of passion and done by someone the victim knew. They found her body in a very secluded, dense area of the park, it very well could have been the person who found her body leading the search party to where he left her.
- Jealous Julliard Student: Sarah was loved and revered by professors and classmates and was evidently talented and praised. With the high level of competition, pressure and the close-knit environment at a school like Julliard, it is possible this could have been committed by someone who had anger, jealousy and resentment toward Sarah.
What the Details Could Mean
- Yellow Tulips:
- a sign of remorse; the flowers were picked and placed at the body days after the murder occurred.
- yellow tulips symbolize: originally yellow flowers symbolized hopeless love and jealousy. In modern times, they are associated with cheerfulness. Tulips symbolize a “perfect love.”
- the color and flower choice could have been out of pure opportunity as these flowers were growing near the crime scene and not brought in.
- In modern times, placing flowers at a grave/funeral is a sign of grief, sympathy, respect and mourning
- In earlier years, flowers placed at a funeral/near a dead body were a tactic used to cover up the smell of the decaying body
- There were 24 tulip petals found at the scene. There could have been more; given the heavy rain between her death and discovery, some of them could have blown away.
24 symbolically means: family (particularly a balanced and happy family life), rebirth & a connection to nature, the elements & the universe.
- Removing the victim’s clothes could be a forensic countermeasure as well as a way to further humiliate the deceased. If this murder was as ritualistic as it seems, it could be tied to that. The removal of the clothes could also strongly indicate that the victim had been sexually assaulted.
- Sarah’s clothes were never found, they could have been kept as a trophy.
- Strangulation is often seen as a crime of passion; it is possible that Sarah knew her killer, or it was someone that knew her (i.e. someone stalking her that she was unaware of, a jealous Julliard classmate, etc.)
- Stick placed between her legs could indicate sexual assault/sexual sadism in some capacity, or attacker was impotent (though most impotent sadists use stabbing in place of sexual assault).
Profiling the Unsub (Unidentified Subject)
- strong build
- lives within proximity of park
- OCD or ritualistic obsession/connection to rituals and spiritual
- knew Sarah personally or observed her and knew her patterns