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Relatives Mourn Washington Heights Woman Found in Queens Attic

By  Chelsia Rose Marcius Alan Neuhauser Dan Rivoli and Trevor Kapp | August 15, 2012 9:20am | Updated on August 15, 2012 2:19pm

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — The heartbroken parents of a 19-year-old woman whose body was found in a Queens attic remembered their youngest daughter as a "wonderful girl" who had dreamed of becoming a chef.

Dozens of mourners visited at Rivera Funeral Home on 1260 St. Nicholas Ave. to say farewell to Samantha Bermudez, who was stabbed to death and found in the Richmond Hill apartment last month.

"She was a wonderful girl. She was loving," her father, Daniel Bermudez, 43, said. "It's my daughter. It's my little girl.

"She wanted to go to culinary school. That was her dream," he added. "She liked to cook everything, Spanish food. She liked to bake."

Samantha Bermudez attended the Lorge School, a special education program in Manhattan that serves emotionally disturbed and learning disabled students, for three years, officials said. She was remembered as affable and funny and a student who "built lasting relationships," said Shawn Bradley, the school's dean of students.

"A wonderful young lady. Very vivacious," he said. "It's tragic and sad this happened.

"When I saw her mom [Tuesday], I didn't even know what to say," he added. "She just burst into tears."

Bermudez's mother, Evelyn Nunez, and others wore T-shirts with her daughter's photo at the funeral home Wednesday.

"Reality sinks in at a time like this," Daniel Bermudez said. "It wasn't meant for her to be stabbed and stuffed in a box."

Bermudez was discovered with "numerous" stab wounds in a plastic box in the apartment of Devendra Autar, who committed suicide there, authorities said.

Investigators believe Autar, 32, killed Bermudez then hanged himself from a pull-up bar in the apartment, a police source said. Autar's older brother, Devchand Autar, an NYPD officer, discovered his body July 20.

A suicide note was also found, stating Autar expected he'd go to Hell, according to the New York Post and New York Daily News, which published two different versions of the note.

It wasn't immediately clear how Samantha Bermudez was connected to Devendra Autar.

"Nobody in the family knows him," said Carmen Prieto, Samantha Bermudez's aunt. "We're dumbfounded."

Relatives said Bermudez had been missing since December, when she left home for a shelter in Queens. She first went to Covenant House, a shelter for homeless youth on 460 W. 41st St. in Manhattan, relatives said.

Nunez went to the NYPD to report her daughter missing, Prieto said. But cops waited two months to file a report, Prieto charged.

The NYPD's public information office did not immediately comment on the allegations.

Police stumbled upon Bermudez's corpse two weeks after Autar's suicide, when neighbors reported smelling a suspicious odor coming from the apartment.

Bermudez's body was identified by the city Medical Examiner's office Tuesday, police said.

At Bermudez's home on West 161st Street, loved ones formed a makeshift memorial of flowers and photos.

Her body will be buried at Maple Grove Cemetery in Hackensack, NJ, relatives said.