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Ms. Evelyn Shapiro's death
The article appeared on page 15 in the Sunday edition of the New York Times. The headline read,
“Woman, 88, Is Killed in Bronx Apartment.” Just another murder in the Bronx.
Reading about this
murder struck me in an abstract and a profound manner. Reading about the brutality of the event sent icy shivers up and down my spine.
I don’t know why, but I tore out the page containing the news of the Shapiro death and put it
on my desk. I’ve re-read the article 5 times.
Ms. Shapiro lived in the Pelham Parkway Houses
in the Bronx, not far from where I was born. She lived alone. She was in her 80’s. Neighbors said she was a well-dressed, agreeable
woman who remained independent and active. She still drove her own car and did her own grocery shopping.
Last Saturday morning Ms. Shapiro was beaten to death after returning from her supermarket shopping. Ms. Shapiro suffered head trauma.
Grocery bags and their contents were scattered around Mrs. Shapiro’s body, which lay just inside
her fifth-floor apartment. The door to her apartment was unlocked and slightly ajar, with no sign of forced entry according the police.
After the discovery of Mrs. Shapiro’s body the police found additional grocery bags in her car downstairs.
Norma Rodriguez, commenting on the crime, said, “It makes me worried.” Herma Williams, president of the housing project’s residents’
association, said Mrs. Shapiro baby-sat for neighbors, visited landmarks in Manhattan and drove a blue Toyota Camry that she kept
parked near the six-story building.
“She had her wits about her,” Mrs. Williams said. “She was
cognizant of her surroundings.”
The police and Mrs. Williams said that Ms. Shapiro’s apartment
had been ransacked. No weapon has been found.
Describing Ms. Shapiro, her neighbor, Lisa Velez,
said, that Ms. Shapiro always seemed to wear makeup, well-tailored clothes and gold jewelry. Ms. Velez said that Ms. Shapiro told
her that she wore the jewelry when she was out and about because she was afraid it would be stolen if she left it behind in the apartment.
Police said that detectives would determine where Ms. Shapiro had bought her groceries and look
for footage from surveillance cameras between the store and her home to see if they could find images of anyone following her.
As of today the police have made no arrests in the death of Ms. Shapiro. Life in the Bronx goes on. Somewhere in the Bronx, or Brooklyn
or Queens – somewhere in New York someone is preparing to sell Ms. Shapiro’s jewelry. It won’t bring a lot of money. Memories come
Somewhere, someone carries a memory of beating Ms. Shapiro to death. Of striking a pleasant
88-year old woman until her life ended.
I don’t know exactly why the New York Times article about
Ms. Shapiro had such a deep effect on me. Perhaps because it illustrates the impermanent , fleeting nature of all of our lives.
One minute we are all like Ms. Shapiro. Living our lives, innocently returning to the warmth of our homes.
“She was very sweet,” Ms. Velez said of Ms. Shapiro. “I feel so heartbroken.”
So do I.