The father of the missing 39-year-old pregnant woman found in the basement crawl space of the Bronx home where she was last seen has been arrested in her death, police say.
The body found around 3 a.m. Wednesday is thought to be Andrea Caruth, and she was pronounced dead at the scene. Law enforcement sources say Caruth died from strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head, though a medical examiner has yet to officially declare a cause of death.
After being questioned by investigators, Caruth's father, 61-year-old William Caruth, was arrested on murder and manslaughter charges, police said.
"I can't believe it," friend Marjorie Johnson Fitzwilliam said at a vigil for Andrea Wednesday night. "How could a father kill his own child? It doesn't make any sense."
Sources say it appears William Caruth had been stealing money from his daughter and took out a second mortgage on the home he shared with her and her boyfriend without her knowledge. When Andrea Caruth discovered what happened, she confronted her father, which apparently led to the deadly confrontation, the sources said.
Caruth said nothing to reporters as he was led from a police station Wednesday night to appear before a judge. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney.
A family friend who asked to remain anonymous said father and daughter had a stormy relationship and there were "issues sometimes about money," adding that Andrea was "strong-headed girl."
The friend said William tried to rule his adult daughter's life and that he was a "very controlling, very stern, very firm man."
The five-months pregnant woman was reported missing by her boyfriend after last being seen at the home she shared with her boyfriend and her father on Corsa Avenue around 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
Friends said William Caruth may not have know he was going to be a grandfather when he allegedly killed his daughter.
"I don't think he was aware of that because the boyfriend mentioned that he told him that night that she was pregnant," said Nigel Fitzwilliam, suggesting the father found out while his daughter was reported missing.
At the vigil for Andrea near her home, friends and family released red and white balloons into the sky.
"She was a loving person who holds no grudge against nobody," friend Julia McCall, who became concerned after failing to hear from Caruth during a planned brunch Sunday, said earlier. "She was a wonderful, wonderful person, the best friend I ever had."
McCall said Caruth, who ran a day care out of the Bronx home, was supposed to find out the gender of her baby Wednesday, the same day her body was discovered.
Caruth's live-in boyfriend called McCall Monday and said she never came home Sunday night, even though her car still sat in the parking lot. He reported her missing to police.
"It's mind-boggling," McCall told NBC 4 New York Tuesday, when Caruth was still missing. "Her car is here, wallet, keys, phone, credit cards, pocketbook. Even heavy jacket."
Friends and family said Caruth was looking forward to giving birth to her first child.
"She was very excited," said McCall. "It's her first child, she even had a name picked out."
Before news of the arrest, Caruth's cousin, Javid Caruth, said he was trying to understand why anyone would take the life of his relative.
"It's devastating. The family want to know who would do it," Caruth said. "She was a nice girl, sweet. We grew up together so it's like, the memory is going to always be there."