Friday, November 02, 2007
Ramones curse update: The murder suspects
The New York Times loves a tabloid murder mystery, but the real clues in the Ramones curse killing of Linda Stein are revealed by the tabloid crime reporters from the New York Daily News and New York Post:
Cops spent hours Thursday grilling the 62-year-old victim's ex-lover, contractor Francisco Arena, before cutting him loose.
Arena, known for expert stone and glass work, did several renovations for Stein.
Sources said the murder weapon was likely a hammer.
Detectives also grilled Stein's ex-assistant, Raoul Garcia Bernal, a handsome Romeo type, the sources said. Bernal, 49, was not charged, but could be questioned again. NYPD officials were careful not to call him a suspect.
Bernal, whom Stein's friends called "The Cuban," recently had a falling-out with her, pals said.
"Raoul was a handsome young guy, and he led Linda on so she thought they would have an affair. So far as I know, they never did," said a friend.
The friend said Stein and Bernal co-brokered several deals, but she grew tired of his skirt-chasing shenanigans. "
Bernal was one of the few friends who did not call the Stein family with condolences after her murder, a family friend said.
Raul Diaz Bernal, 49, had been fired as Stein's assistant at the powerful Prudential Douglas Elliman brokerage firm a few months ago following the dispute, in which he allegedly accused her of stiffing him on a sale.
He had the keys to her posh Fifth Avenue apartment, where she was found bludgeoned to death.
Bernal, described by neighbors in his East 90th Street building as handsome man who lives with a beautiful blond girlfriend. (Note: The News refers to him as “Garcia Bernal,” the Post as “Diaz Bernal.” We’ll see who got the name right.)
Investigators also wanted to speak to several others who knew Stein.
Police also believe that several other people had the keys to Stein's apartment, and want to talk to them.
Other friends of Stein, who survived bouts with cancer and had two mastectomies, told cops to hunt for her high-end marijuana dealers. All of them dressed well and some delivered weed to her flat in wooden boxes inlaid with ivory.
(Note: The Post headlines the "Axed Aide," while it's the "Ex-Lover" and "pot dealers" topping the News story.)