Zunilda Rosario, a 48-year-old mom of two, was busted on Thursday in connection with a horrifying murder in Harlem, New York City, way back in 1990 — a murder that 26 years ago Rosario blamed on a lone gunman who was never identified or caught despite security cameras that were rolling during the crime in the building on West 150th Street in Harlem, according to a report by New York’s WPIX TV News.
But there was a good reason why the supposedly random shooter was never apprehended. According to police, he did not exist. In fact, they say — according to a report on the case in the New York Daily News — the gunman was not even a man, but a woman, Zunilda Rosario herself, who pumped nine bullets into her 19-year-old victim’s back on February 11, 1990, in the vestibule of what was then a drug-infested apartment building.
— Ksley8 (@KonnieMoments1) August 27, 2016
And the teen, Juan Deleon, was none other than Rosario’s lover — and the father of her two young daughters. According to a report in the New York Post, police questioned Rosario the day after the slaying, but let her go after she told her story of a lone shooter who burst in on the couple in the middle of a lover’s quarrel, and tests for gunpowder on her hands were negative.
The case broke wide open more than a quarter-century after the crime, when witnesses finally came forward earlier this year, telling police what they had seen that night. When investigators asked one witness what caused the 26-year delay in reporting the shocking murder, the witness said that conditions in Harlem in 1990, the worst year for homicides in New York City history, were simply too dangerous to go to the police.
The following video summarizes the key facts in the bizarre cold murder case that now appears solved, at least as far as New York police are concerned.
Cops say that Rosario, who was 22 years old at the time, was enraged by Deleon’s relationship with another woman, a woman with whom the 19-year-old had also fathered a child the previous year.
A police document alleges that Rosario had not only threatened to kill her teen lover on two previous occasions, in one incident shoving a gun directly at him but holding back from pulling the trigger, but she also threatened to kill the other woman and the baby that Deleon fathered with her.
But a few years after she was cleared of killing Deleon, Zunilda Rosario — who skipped Deleon’s funeral — relocated to Providence, Rhode Island, and raised the two girls whose father she had allegedly killed. She supported herself and her family in Rhode Island with a job as a school bus driver — often traveling back to see friends and family in New York, apparently with no fear of being apprehended by police.
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) August 26, 2016
She never changed her name or attempted to disguise her identity, or her past. In fact, she was in the Dominican Republic last week, and cops were waiting to bust her at JFK International Airport when her return flight touched down on Thursday evening.
The murder of Juan Deleon could have easily been lost in the shuffle in 1990, a year when New York City experienced a record 2,245 murders. The murder of Juan Deleon was the 16th homicide in the same police precinct in just two months, according to crime stats cited by the Post.
By comparison, in 2015 New York City, the most populous city in the United States, saw 350 murders — a figure that was up somewhat from 333 in 2014 and was the first increase in five years, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Zunilda Rosario reportedly denied once again to police that she killed Juan Deleon more than 26 years ago, and her friends and relatives aren’t buying the police charges either.
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“There was no lover’s quarrel,” said one relative, who asked not to be named, in an interview with the Post. “That was all b******t. This is a woman who has so much integrity. She is a taxpayer. She went to Providence for a better life. This is a woman who would never, never harm anybody. We are all shocked.”
Zunilda Rosario was arraigned in a New York City courtroom on Friday where she was formally charged with second degree murder in the cold case slaying of Juan Deleon.
[Photo by Bill Oxford/iStock/Getty Images]