Former Principal Found Dead in Queens, 85-Year-Old Husband Charged: Cops
EAST ELMHURST — An elderly Queens man was charged with the death of his wife — a retired public school principal who famously feuded with the city and school's chancellor in the 1990 — for failing to call 911 after he claimed she was injured falling out of bed repeatedly, according to court documents.
Dr. Vergie Muhammad, 80, who went by "Sister," was found dead in the East Elmhurst home she shared with her husband, Elhajj Muhammad, 85, on Sept. 11.
An autopsy revealed that she died from blunt force trauma to the head, had a crushed windpipe and broken neck bones. She also suffered bruising and cuts, broken ribs and cuts, according to court documents.
Elhajj told police his wife had fallen out of bed at twice, but he had trouble getting her up off the floor, according to the criminal complaint. He also didn't call 911 until hours after she fell the first time, the documents say.
Sometime around 3 p.m., he told authorities his wife fell out of bed the first time and he was able to help her back up by dragging her by the arms.
When she fell out of bed a second time, he said he tried repeatedly to get her back up onto the bed by "dragging her arms and yanking her," the court documents said.
According to the criminal complaint, he called his grandson around 6 p.m. who told him to call 911 — but he didn't call for help until 7:40 p.m.
Emergency Medical Service workers pronounced her dead just before 8 p.m.
Her husband was arrested on Sept. 12 and charged with criminally negligent homicide, according to the NYPD.
"Sister" Muhammad, 80, was the principal of Jackie Robinson I.S. 320 in Brooklyn and was accused of selling thousands of dollars worth of textbooks, computers and furniture to private schools in the 1990s, according to a report from that time.
"I am being made a sacrificial lamb and I'm not going to take it," she said in a letter to her teachers in 1994.
Muhammad's school district had a slew of problems, including a high turnover rate with teachers, and considered for a city-wide takeover by then Schools Chancellor Chancellor Ramon C. Cortines.
She retired in 1995, according to the teacher's retirement system.
She is survived by a daughter, Sanovia H. Muhammad, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and many friends, according to her obituary.
A message was left for Elhajj's attorney, but was not immediately returned.