EAST HARLEM — A man dragged a dead woman into the stairwell of the DeWitt Clinton Houses, set her body on fire, then returned home where he slit his own throat in a botched suicide attempt after a brief standoff Tuesday morning with police, police said.
The man, who relatives identified as Nelson Quinones, pulled the corpse of Shantee Nakhid, 23, stuffed inside a garbage bag from 1405 Park Ave., to nearby 107 E. 105th St. about 6:30 a.m., leaving a bloody trail along the way, according to NYPD officials and witnesses.
"We had a blood trail that led us across the street. We had blood in the hallway. We had blood in the lobby and in the elevators," said Manhattan North Chief of Detectives Christopher McCormack.
The circumstances of Nakhid's murder and her connection to the suspect weren't immediately clear. The Medical Examiner will determine how she died and if any criminality was involved, officials said.
Quinones, wearing a long dark coat with a hood, dragged the body through the ninth-floor hallway and into a nearby stairwell, witnesses said.
"He was bent over. He was dragging it by the feet. I thought it was garbage at first, but when I looked on the floor, there was blood. I saw the feet. She had black high heels," said ninth-floor tenant Victor Ortiz, 52.
"When he saw me, he said, 'Oh s--t.' I went back into my apartment and locked the door," Ortiz added.
Ten minutes later, Ortiz smelled smoke, he said.
"It was a strong smell. I thought it was a big fire," Ortiz said.
Firefighters put the blaze out about 6:40 a.m., but after Quinones fled back to his 12th-floor home in 1405 Park Ave. where he'd locked himself inside with a 60-year-old woman, a 14-year-old boy and a 20-year-old young man, police said. It was not immediately clear if the three people were his relatives.
Quinones slashed his neck and wrists before police reached him inside, they said.
"They rendered him aid. They saved him," McCormack said.
Quinones was treated at Harlem Hospital, where he's listed in critical condition, officials said.
Quinones' sister, Jacqueline Thomas, 41, said the apartment belonged to their mother. She said that Quinones slammed the door on police who tracked him back to the apartment.
"He [saw] the police when he opened the door and he was scared [so he shut the door on them]," Thomas said.
Thomas said her brother was innocent and that he didn't kill anyone.
"He did nothing wrong. This was not him and I'm going to get to the bottom of this," Thomas said.