EAST VILLAGE — A woman who was found dead in the Lillian Wald Houses Wednesday afternoon with a scarf wrapped around her neck was likely strangled, police said.
Though the medical examiner has yet to determine the cause of death, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said at a Thursday morning press conference that officers believe Brooke Garcia, 27, died of strangulation before she was found in bed at around 1:30 p.m. inside what neighbors said was her aunt's apartment.
"We don't know what the cause of death is right now — we're assuming it's strangulation, but that's conjecture at this point," said Boyce, who noted an autopsy on the victim's body is still in progress.
Detectives are currently combing through surveillance footage at the Lillian Wald Houses, looking for video of people coming and going from the houses in hopes of identifying those who may have interacted with Garcia before her death. They are also perusing her phone for clues.
"We do have a lot of video in that location," said Boyce. "We do have the victim's phone, so those are great tools for us to find out exactly what happened."
Police have brought in several people for questioning and are attempting to pin down her whereabouts and who she was with the night before, Boyce added.
"We're talking to everybody in her life right now," he said.
Neighbors of the apartment where Garcia was found dead remembered her as quiet but polite, greeting people as she came and went to visit her aunt, who lived there.
"We used to say 'hi' and 'bye,'" said neighbor Aida Rodriguez, noting Garcia was often sitting in the hallway on her phone because the apartment did not have Wi-Fi. "She was a nice, decent person. She didn't bother anyone."
Another neighbor said she became so accustomed to hearing Garcia's phone through her door that its absence is haunting.
"She was always with her phone," said Delia Cancel. "It feels so weird — I don't hear the phone."
A small memorial holding several candles and inscribed with words of remembrance from neighbors sat outside the housing complex Thursday afternoon.
A memorial for Brooke Garcia was outside the Lillian Wald Houses. (DNAinfo/Allegra Hobbs)