A body found "hog-tied" and bound with tape in an air conditioning vent of a downtown building is believed to be that of a missing cleaning woman, according to reports.
The woman discovered stuffed in the 12th floor air conditioning duct at 2 Rector Street died from asphyxiation caused by the black and yellow construction tape that was wrapped around her head and face, the medical examiner said today.
The tape held a gold cricifix to her mouth, cops said.
Police believe the body is that of Eridania Rodriguez, a cleaning woman who worked at the building and disappeared five days ago. The building’s security tapes contained no footage of her leaving after her shift in the building on Tuesday.
"You could see what appeared to be someone in the hog-tied position," Paul Browne, the NYPD spokesman, told the New York Post.
The Post reported the woman's body was fully clothed except for her shoes, which had been placed neatly beside her. She was hog-tied and had a cross over her mouth, the report said.
Medical examiner spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said an autopsy revealed the cause of death was homicide. The identity of the body has not been released.
An elevator operator who worked in the building is under surveillance, police sources and published reports said. The Post reports the man has a history of criminal behavior, including attacking a girlfriend's car with a bowling ball.
Police had been searching landfills in Western Pennsylvania trying to find her body Friday night, but when the search turned up no results they relaunched a search of the building.
Rodriguez was last seen going into work. She had punched in for work around 5 p.m. She donned her blue uniform, chatted with other after-hours employees and was last seen on security cameras around 7 p.m., according to a lawyer for her family, Daniel Ferreira.
Then, she disappeared. Police will continue to search the landfills and relaunch a top-to-bottom search of the building where she disappeared.
The leading theory is that she was killed -- probably strangled -- on the 8th floor of the building where her hair clips and mop were discovered, said a law enforcement source. Then, sources theorize, the killer stuffed her inside a garbage bag which was collected with the rest of the building's garbage about 9:30 p.m.
Police have already questioned two men, but have released them both without charges. One of the men reportedly harassed Rodriguez. Family said she had complained about the man -- saying he watched her while she worked.
"She had been complaining about a guy at the building who made her kind of nervous," Ferreira said. "And she worked on floors that had been empty."
The woman's family is distraught and fears the worst, Ferreira said. Rodriguez is married with several children. One of her brothers is Victor Martinez, a top-ranked professional bodybuilder.
Police quietly sealed off the building Wednesday morning to hunt for clues. They found no trace of the missing woman. Workers were finally allowed back in shortly before noon.
"It's a mind blower. How do you go missing here?" said Rob Ross, an executive assistant in the studio of architect Daniel Libeskind, who moved to the tower after getting the commission to redesign ground zero.
Security in the building is typical for the financial district. Employees need identification cards to enter. Security cameras cover every entrance and many public areas. Every visitor is photographed before they are allowed up from the lobby.
Officials at the company that operates the building, Stellar Management, declined to comment.
Built in 1909, the skyscraper has more than 400,000 square feet of interior space and rises 26 stories. Besides Studio Daniel Libeskind, the building's tenants include the architectural firm NBBJ, several law firms and, until recently, a division of the city's transportation department.