Posted on 24 March 2010.
The body of a man was found in the backyard of a burning row house on 56th Street in Sunset Park early Tuesday morning.
The body of a man in his 30s was found with his throat slashed in the backyard of a house ablaze on 56th Street in Sunset Park, the Daily News reported.
The fire at 322 56th Street, set the street alight at 1:22am Tuesday morning. More than 100 firefighters spent 90 minutes extinguishing the blaze, according to the Daily News. Eight sustained minor injuries.
The man found sprawled in the back yard was bleeding from a laceration at the neck, and was declared dead at the scene, said Jesus Raul Pintos, deputy inspector of the 72nd Precinct. Police are investigating the death, but have not declared it a homicide.
“His body was found in the behind the building,” said Melissa Velez, whose aunt and grandparents live in the house next door. “We heard someone threw the body out the window.”
Velez’s aunt Janet Morales lives with her parents in the house, and awoke early Tuesday morning to find the house next door burning. She rushed her two sons and her parents onto the street, and fire crews soon arrived.
The family was safe, but their house was not, said Morales, 40. Firefighters used her front room to help put out the blaze, leaving water damage that has seeped from Morales’ apartment on the third floor down to the foundation.
“It was a terrible experience,” she said.
Morales’ family and neighbors have complained to police and buildings inspectors about people passing in and out of the vacant building next door for years, Morales said. Police too have tried to do something about the structure, but have had little success contacting the bank that now owns the house, Pintos said.
Neighbors across the street said they often saw people lingering outside the house. One man in his twenties made it a regular post, they said, and often stumbled around as if drunk. They didn’t believe anyone lived in the building, but people regularly seemed to come up from Third Avenue and walk in and out. The door, to anyone willing to walk up and test it, was open.
“We tried to call the bank too after someone tried to rob my grandfather’s house,” said Melissa Velez. “And then this.”
At about 5pm, Velez stood with an umbrella and a baby carriage, watching an emergency team clean out the contents of her aunt and grandparents’ house. Detectives with notepads passed up and down the block, asking neighbors what they had seen. But the investigation was not the first thing on Velez’s mind. Her aunt and grandparents must vacate the row house where they have lived for decades.
Janet Morales came down the stairs, surrounded by family. They had been in the house, looking at the damage, and what they might salvage.
“I lost everything,” Morales said.
They were heading to Fifth Avenue to buy some clothes. Morales looked at her violet fingernails, “Maybe I’ll get my nails done,” she said. “They got all messed up.”
Morales laughed, the ring a little hollow. “I’m trying to make the best of it,” she said.