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West Village Man Fatally Stabs Girlfriend in Apartment, Police Say

By  Ben Fractenberg Janon Fisher and Aidan Gardiner | May 1, 2014 8:15pm | Updated on May 2, 2014 9:40am

 Dennis Guglielmo, ex-owner of Carmine Street Guitars, fatally stabbed his girlfriend inside 38 Downing St., police said.
Dennis Guglielmo, ex-owner of Carmine Street Guitars, fatally stabbed his girlfriend inside 38 Downing St., police said.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

WEST VILLAGE — A neighborhood character, who told his neighbors he had recently been released from Bellevue Hospital, fatally stabbed his girlfriend during an argument in their third-floor Downing Street apartment Thursday evening, officials and neighbors said.

Dennis Guglielmo, 69, who was prominent in the Village music scene, stabbed his girlfriend, 59-year-old Alice Birnbaum, several times in the chest during an argument about 6:30 p.m. inside 38 Downing St., between Bedford Street and Seventh Avenue, officials and reports said.

Birnbaum was pronounced dead at the scene while Guglielmo was arrested on charges of murder and criminal possession of a weapon, police said.

Guglielmo told neighbors he checked himself into Bellevue a week before the killing, but left days later because he may have had a bad reaction to medications he was prescribed, neighbors said.

Neighbors said Guglielmo had been a part of the local rock 'n' roll scene since the 1960s and had a reputation as a bit of a tough guy.

"His nickname was 'Sharkey' — tough Italian guy," said a neighbor who has known Guglielmo for 20 years and frequently saw him walking a one-eyed dog that he took in after Hurricane Sandy.

"Down here, he's an icon," said the neighbor, who declined to give his name.

In 2012, Guglielmo gained some media attention when he used a metal chair to ward off a group of teenagers who were harassing passersby outside Numero 28 pizzeria, the Daily News reported.

Guglielmo has been arrested seven other times, police said. Four of those arrests were in Manhattan, including one in 1963 for felony assault, police said.

He was also arrested twice in Miami, Florida — once in 2006 on a kidnapping charge and again in 2005 for petty theft, police said.

He was also arrested in East Hampton for driving while intoxicated, police said. 

Guglielmo had also frequently harassed local business Carmine Street Guitars, which he claimed he had once co-owned, said the shop's owner, Rick Kelly.

"He acts like he's a tough guy," Kelly said. "He's a bully."

He had chucked a beer bottle through the shop's window in 2012 and then in 2013 sued Kelly over ownership rights, but the case was dismissed because he couldn't prove he had ever been a part of the shop, Kelly said.

The Carmine luthier is known for crafting guitars from the discarded timbers of iconic New York buildings like the Chelsea Hotel and Chumley's.