The body of a woman was found in a plastic garbage bag in a ninth-floor stairwell of a Manhattan building Tuesday after firefighters doused a small blaze there, and a trail of blood led cops to a person of interest apparently trying to take his own life a few blocks away, authorities say.
Firefighters were called to the Clinton Houses on 105th Street in East Harlem shortly before 7 a.m. for a report of victims with burns. They quickly put out the flames and found the woman in the bag in a ninth-floor stairwell. That was woman was identified by police as 23-year-old Shantee Nakhid. According to officials, there was a trail of blood in the hallway and in the lobby. Authorities described it as a significant amount of blood.
A short time later, ESU crews were called to the 12th floor of a building on Park Avenue, where they found a man barricaded inside an apartment. The crews got inside and found the man had slashed himself in the neck and wrist, authorities said.
That man, identified by family and friends as Nelson Quinones, is considered a person of interest in the death of Nakhid. Investigators believe she was killed in the Park Avenue building where Quinones is a tenant; they say her body was taken to the 105th Street building, where it was apparently set on fire, officials said.
No one was hurt in the blaze, which was contained to the stairwell area.
Quinones was taken to the hospital in unknown condition. His relationship to the victim wasn't immediately clear.
Quinones' older sister, Jacqueline Thomas, said he slashed himself after a domestic dispute Tuesday morning but insists he's not connected to the killing and burning of Nakhid.
"They're claiming somebody dragged this from here, please," she told News 4. "He can't even lift his 5-year-old daughter when she's sleeping from the park upstairs, I got to help him. This is ridiculous."
She added that "he was scared. He seen the police when he opened the door. He was scared. He shut the door."
Quinones is believed to live on the 12th floor of the Park Avenue building with an older woman, a 20-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy. Neither the woman nor the young man and boy were hurt. Investigators are questioning the trio in hopes of finding some leads.
Investigators say Nakhid who was found in the garbage bag had been partially burned; she was still wearing clothes.