Ambassador's Daughter Falls 22 Stories to Her Death in Herald Square
By Jennifer Glickel, Ben Fractenberg and Nicole Bode
HERALD SQUARE — The 17-year-old daughter of a U.S. diplomat about to begin studies at Parsons this fall was found dead after falling 22 stories from a Herald Square apartment early Friday morning after a night of partying, according to police.
Nicole John, whose father Eric John is the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand, fell out of a 25th floor window at the Herald Towers apartment building at 50 W. 34th Street, police said.
Ilan Nassimi, who rented the apartment, was charged Friday for serving alcohol to John. He was taken to the Midtown South Precinct for questioning before being lead out past reporters Friday afternoon.
John apparently slipped off her shoes and clambered out on to a narrow ledge outside the window shortly after 4 a.m., then fell to her death, police said. A camera was found near her body on a third-floor ledge below, leading police to believe she was trying to take a photo when she died.
"I found her there. I looked at her and she was so young," said building engineer Robert Pena. "It was not a pretty sight. She was just a baby."
Pena immediately called 911, but the girl was pronounced dead at the scene when emergency responders arrived, police said. A resident across the airway from where John fell also called 911, police said.
John partied with friends at the Meatpacking District hotspot Tenjune until around 2 a.m. Friday, then headed to a top-floor luxury apartment where Nassimi hosted an after-party for a group of about 20 people, police said. She reportedly had a Brazilian fake ID that claimed she was 23 or 24.
"I have a brazilian ID that was made here in NYC and it’s really good, it’s never been rejected," John wrote last Saturday in her blog. "It's also easier if you're a girl lol."
Pena said a group of high-school aged boys and girls came into the building shortly before 4 a.m. They appeared to be drunk and several of the girls could barely stand up, Pena said.
Pena confirmed that John fell from apartment 25C4, where relatives said Nassimi lived with a roommate. Pena said he got a call from the apartment, saying "I don't know, I'm not sure, but I was told a girl just went out my window."
According to his LinkedIn profile, Nassimi started up his own venture capital firm last August, Illann Enterprises, and was a commercial broker for the real estate firm Metropolitan Property Group. The company had no comment Friday.
Nassimi’s mother reacted with horror when told of the incident.
“Seventeen years old? Oh, my God,” gasped Nassimi’s mother, Sholeh Ijadi. “I’m a mother. Oh my God, what can I do?”
She said Nassimi moved into the apartment nine months ago.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters that the apartment was cleaned up before investigators arrived.
Police said there were no signs that John was pushed, and no suicide note.
The NYPD believes John took off her shoes, climbed onto a narrow ledge outside the window, and fell.
The city Medical Examiner's office determined Saturday that John died from blunt force trauma to the head.
Another tenant, Noel Do, said she heard a large commotion just after 4 a.m.
"I woke up from a bunch of noises just after 4. a.m.," said Do, 24, who lives on the third floor. "I heard a lot of footsteps and running. And I heard one guy scream 'stop running!'"
Around 14 school-aged kids could be seen sitting in the lobby of the building while two police officers stood near them around 7 a.m.
Nicole John went to high school in Bangkok, Thailand, where she volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, according to a State Department website. She was getting ready to begin a semester this fall as a student at the Parsons School of Design in Chelsea, and had just moved into her Gramercy dorm a week ago, according to her blog.
"The New School community is deeply saddened by the untimely and tragic death of one of our students, which happened off campus earlier today. Because of an ongoing police investigation we have no further comment," said Peter Taback, spokesman for the New School, which oversees Parsons.
Shaken students gathered outside John's dorm in Gramercy.
Ashley Wald, 18, an incoming freshman from Los Angeles said she saw John dressed for a party last night.
"It's pretty strange. I don't know what to say," Wald said.
Emily Katz, 18, said she didn't know John, but her death left her shocked and sad.
"There are 600 people in this building and we haven't even met them all," Katz said. "Partying is having fun, but that's just too extreme. We didn't expect that this would happen."
A spokesman for the State Department said "our thoughts and prayers are with the John family at this difficult time, and we ask that you respect their privacy as they mourn the loss of their daughter Nicole."
John's body was picked up Sunday by the Riverdale Funeral Home, said a spokeswoman for the Medical Examiner's office. An employee at the Inwood home said Sunday he did not have details related to funeral services.