An 83-year-old previously convicted in two other killings has been arrested in connection with the grisly discovery of a woman's body — missing a head, arms and legs — that was found in a garbage bag in a shopping cart on a busy street outside a Brooklyn store last week, according to police and prison records.
Harvey Marcelin, who has spent more than 50 years in prison for the two prior convictions in deaths of other women, is charged with concealing a human corpse regarding the torso that law enforcement sources said belonged to a 68-year-old woman living in an LGBTQ shelter in the Clinton Hill area at the time of her death.
The Brooklyn district attorney's office identified the victim as Susan Leyden, a 68-year-old Brooklyn resident. Police said that the Marcelin and Leyden knew each other, but the extent of their relationship is unclear.
On Thursday afternoon, Brooklyn's Assistant District Attorney announced in court an indictment for murder and related charges.
“Last week my Office charged Harvey Marcelin with allegedly concealing the severed head of a woman in her home and discarding the victim’s torso in a bag on the street. Today, the grand jury indicted Harvey Marcelin for murder, and my office is committed to vigorously seeking justice. The facts of this horrific case are gruesome and unsettling and my heart is with the victim’s family and friends,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.
The body was found a week ago at the corner of Atlantic and Pennsylvania avenues, just outside a construction safety gear shop next to a carpet store, by a passerby who noticed the bag on his way to a friend's house in Greenpoint and decided to open it up when it was still there on his way home. He was the one to call 911.
The bag wasn't tied up. It was only rolled down, a senior NYPD official said the man reported. He reached inside. First, he felt a roll of toilet paper. Then came the torso.
The medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine how the woman died. It's not yet been confirmed if a human leg found blocks from the torso a few days later has been definitively linked to the same victim, however police sources did link the appendage to Leyden.
Officers executed a search warrant and found a human head inside Marcelin's apartment, according to the criminal complaint, along with blades for a saw. Police sources told NBC New York that tarot cards were also found laid out on a table inside the apartment, and investigators are looking into whether that played a factor in the alleged murder.
According to prison records cited by the New York Post, Marcelin has twice been convicted of killings before. Marcelin spent more than 50 years in state prison on murder and manslaughter convictions dating back to 1963. Marcelin’s previous convictions were for killing live-in girlfriends, according to court documents.
The murder charge stemmed from a woman's shooting death. A jury found Marcelin guilty of murder in 1963 for fatally shooting Jacqueline Bonds inside a Manhattan apartment. At the time, Marcelin was also facing an attempted rape charge involving another woman, according to court records. The judge gave Marcelin life in prison after jurors were unable to agree on whether the crime justified a death penalty.
Marcelin was released on lifetime parole in May 1984, the Post reported, and cuffed again for allegedly stabbing another another girlfriend less than a year later and leaving her body in a trash bag in the street near Central Park. Marcelin was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to six to 12 years in prison.
State officials were reluctant to grant parole when Marcelin became eligible in the 1990s. During one State Parole Board hearing in 1997, Marcelin admitted to having “problems” with women, according to court records. Other boards rejected parole citing Marcelin’s “attempt to place the blame” on the victims.
Marcelin was released from prison in late 2019 on parole.
Police stress their investigation in the latest case is ongoing. Marcelin is due back in court Thursday. Marcelin is being represented by Legal Aid, which didn't immediately return an email request for comment early Thursday.