Murdered Astoria Woman Chased Dream to New York, but Lived a Nightmare
ASTORIA — A budding financial exec who came to New York to pursue a dream job ended up in a nightmare of domestic abuse at the hands of her boyfriend who allegedly beat and strangled her in their Astoria apartment earlier this week, her friends and cops said.
Danielle Thomas, 27, started her job as a senior financial analyst at Weight Watchers just months ago, after she moved to the Queens apartment of her Columbia University-educated boyfriend, Jason Bohn, 33, who had a glittering resume but a dark past.
But shortly after, neighbors started hearing fights and other troubling incidents that led Thomas to go to cops and co-workers for help. Ultimately, she made a desperate plea to friends over Facebook.
Neighbors at the 33rd Street building where the couple lived for just three months described hearing them fight on several occasions. In one incident Thomas was spotted crawling on her knees through the hallway after a fight.
"One time, someone called me and said there was fighting going on at night and told me to call the police, but I didn't hear nothing," said a neighbor Anna, 60, who did not want to give her last name. "About 30 minutes later, I saw her through the peephole crawling on her knees, but she wasn't talking or screaming. Then he appeared in the door. He went slowly out, then she walked back in."
The neighbor didn't call police because she said she saw Thomas walk back to the apartment, and assumed she was OK.
When Thomas went to the 114th Precinct stationhouse on June 7 to report a series of threatening phone calls she received after breaking up with him, Bohn allegedly called her to taunt her.
"It's war," he allegedly yelled. "I'll dedicate my life to hunting you down like a dog in the streets. I am going to make your life impossible."
Earlier that day, Thomas received several threatening phone calls and emails from Bohn, who she met while they both attended the University of Florida, calling her a "whore" and a "moron," according to a criminal complaint.
It also referred to an incident on May 24 where Bohn allegedly punched Thomas in the face and back, leaving her with bruising and swelling to her knee.
Bohn was charged with assault, aggravated harassment and harassment, according to the office of Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, and a temporary order of protection was issued the next day, according to court records.
Immediately after she reported the alleged abuse to cops, Thomas took to Facebook to tell friends she needed help.
"No one knew about the abuse until the night she went to police," said the victim's devastated pal Andy Rotella, 27, of Dallas, Texas, who took in Thomas after the blowup.
"She acknowledged that she was in a position that she needed to get out of and that she was seeking shelter," said Joshua Johnson, 27, of Seattle, Wa., a pal of Thomas' from her college days, who added that he never got a good impression from Bohn. "She mentioned that she was in an abusive relationship, and assured us that she was safe."
Two days later, Thomas flew out to Dallas to stay with her close friends Andy and Rachel Rotella.
"The moment she came out here her mood lightened," said Rotella, 27.
"She just needed to get away," he said. "Even out here, you could tell it still weighed on her mind and she did not want to have to deal with it."
She stayed with the Rotellas for the next three days and then returned to New York.
According to Rotella, Thomas, who served as a bridesmaid at the the couple's April 15 wedding, tried to get Bohn to move out, but he refused.
"She couldn't take it anymore," he said.
According to Rotella, Bohn "had trouble confronting his faults" and turned minor issues into a fight.
"He would bring up stuff that's not productive, just to fight," Rotella said.
Bohn, who's from the Bronx, earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree at Columbia and a law degree from the University of Florida. He also claimed to work as a contract attorney at AOL, Goldman Sachs and Google, among other places, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Despite his Ivy-League credentials, Bohn had a dark past — he was a self-proclaimed survivor of abuse at the hands of his own father.
"My father was addicted to drugs and physically abusive," Bohn wrote in a 2009 essay for the Jewish Child Care Association. "I was 13 years of age, depressed and extremely angry when I went to live at the Pleasantville Cottage School in Westchester County. Upon my arrival to Cottage 8, I was sincerely determined to do whatever it took to get kicked out. I was physically violent against fellow cottage members and disobedient to concerned staff members."
He went on to say that eventually he was able to turn himself around, succeed in school and get into Columbia.
"There were many falls along the way," he wrote. "But I got up."
Cops were still looking to question Bohn Thursday night. Thomas who had left her job as an analyst at Disney World in Florida in March, was found beaten and strangled in the apartment she shared with Bohn Tuesday evening. The medical examiner's office ruled that the official cause of death was strangulation and blunt force trauma to the torso.
Friends from Weight Watchers took in her beloved dog, Schnoozer.
According to friends, Bohn and Thomas met while they were both at school at the University of Florida, where he was studying for a law degree and she was pursing her MBA. Thomas was a native of Danville, Ky.
Devastated pals set up a Facebook page dedicated to Thomas, who was remembered as a rabid Florida Gators fan who loved adventure and had a quirky sense of humor.
"Danielle was just an amazing person. Never made any enemies. The top of her class in high school. In college, she graduated with honors," said Johnson, who thought of the victim as a "second sister."
"She was one of the nicest and kindest people I ever met."