The handyman charged with the murder of Orsolya Gaal, a New York mother of two, was in a romantic relationship with her, NYPD detectives say.
David Bonola, 44, was arrested at 12:51 am Thursday and charged with murder, criminal manipulation and criminal possession of a weapon.
Bonola worked “odd jobs” at the Forest Hills home where Gaal lived with her husband and two teenage children, police officials said at a news conference Thursday.
New York police said Bonola lived at an address on 114th St in Richmond Hill, about 5 km (3 miles) from the Juno St property where Gaal was killed.
Police say Ms Gaal’s killer was familiar with the property and may have entered through a back door.
The police confirmed that he had had an “intimate” relationship with Ms. Gaal.
Ms. Gaal was stabbed 58 times in her neck, torso and arm, and sustained defensive injuries to her fingers and palm, according to the medical examiner’s office.
The killer then placed her body in a duffel bag and drove it six blocks before dumping it in a park near Jackie Robinson Parkway, where it was discovered by a dog walker at 8 a.m. Saturday.
The “sloppy” crime scene and the fact that a sports bag had apparently been stolen from the property led investigators to believe that this was not a premeditated crime.
Detectives quickly zeroed in on three men with whom Ms Gaal was reportedly in contact the night she died.
Bonola was reportedly identified after police found a bloody pair of boots in a trash can outside the family home.
Bonola had no prior arrests, police say.
At a news conference Thursday announcing Bonola’s arrest, NYPD officers said maintenance personnel admitted sending text messages from the victim’s cell phone to Ms. Gaal’s husband after that she was killed claiming that her family was in danger.
The chilling texts read: “Your whole family is as follows…Your wife sent me to jail some years ago…I’m back.”
Police believe the text messages were “completely false”.
“We don’t believe there is any danger to the family,” an NYPD spokeswoman said.
Bonola had no prior convictions, they added.
Police say Ms. Gaal’s body was placed in a duffel bag and taken out of the house because the killer did not want her family to find out.
Bonola was originally from Mexico and moved to the United States about 21 years ago, police said.
According to a Facebook profile believed to belong to Bonola, he studied at the New York School of Interior Design. He seemed to have worked as a screenwriter.
Ms Gaal and Mr Bonola had been in an on-and-off relationship for around two years, before the relationship ended, police say.
In a May 2020 post, a Facebook account belonging to David Bonola commented on one of Ms Gaal’s photographs.
“Your eyes in love,” she commented alongside a smiley emoji on a May 2020 post Ms. Gaal made from a Zoom party.
He also posted “Hi” on a childhood photo that Ms. Gall posted the same month.
The posts were made just weeks before her husband, Howard Klein, reported Ms Gaal missing.
He called 911 early on May 29, 2020 to say his wife had not returned from a night walk the night before.
Klein reported that his wife had been found safe about 30 minutes later.
Bonola appears to have maintained two Facebook accounts.
Ms. Gaal was a prolific user of Facebook, documenting her travels to Guatemala, around the United States, and her home country of Hungary, as well as family events such as Halloween and school recitals.