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Bushwick Super Found in Shallow Grave 'Protected' His Tenants, Friends Say

By Gwynne Hogan | October 23, 2017 7:26am
 Daniel Rivera was a longtime Brooklynite and rarely left the city, but he went hiking for the first time six years ago with his boss Joseph Foglia.
Daniel Rivera was a longtime Brooklynite and rarely left the city, but he went hiking for the first time six years ago with his boss Joseph Foglia.
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Courtesy of Joseph Foglia

WILLIAMSBURG — Daniel Rivera, 41, wasn't the kind of guy who would stand idly by if someone needed help. 

When a resident of the Lindsey Park complex, where Rivera once worked as a security guard, had a stalker, Rivera stepped in.

"As a woman, when people think you're by yourself and you don't have anyone, they want to take advantage you," explained the tenant, Barbara Williams, 50, who added that even after going to police, the man still followed her to the subway and lingered outside her apartment door.

But when Rivera, who regularly worked out, told the man to back off, he did.

"He protected me," she said, noting that "Danny" stood up for her like a brother.  

 Residents build Rivera a shrine outside the Himrod Street home where he was killed.
Residents build Rivera a shrine outside the Himrod Street home where he was killed.
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DNAinfo/Gwynne Hogan

"It shows that you're not alone."

Now, dozens of tenants and employees at Lindsey Park, who knew Rivera over the decade he worked there, are reeling from the news that he was found buried in a shallow grave in Bushwick backyard, down the street from a trio of buildings where he worked as a superintendent.

Rivera had left the complex amicably in 2015, after he decided he needed a change of pace, said his boss, RJF Security owner Joseph Foglia, who is helping pay the funeral costs for his former employee.

"There's a lot of people in Lindsey Park that have taken an interest in making sure that he gets a proper funeral," said Foglia, who's working with Rivera's brother and sister-in-law to help arrange the memorial service. 

Foglia and Rivera became close friends over the years. They'd played paintball together, and Foglia once took Rivera upstate to the woods to hike, the first time the longtime Brooklynite had ever done so.

"He enjoyed it," his boss said. "He was a city person though. He liked the fast pace."

Rivera was into fitness, often working out at McCarren Park, and also enjoyed playing the bongos. Foglia said. But more than anything, he was an unwavering employee who would always volunteer to work when shifts needed to be covered, his boss added.

Most of all, he was loved by the tenants he served.

"He ate better in those buildings than he did at a five-star restaurant," Foglia said. "Everyone would bring him meals."

Another longtime tenant in Lindsey Park, Daisy Ocasio, remembered him as a mediator who went far beyond his role as a security guard to settle disputes.

When her son and another young man got into an argument, the latter scribbled graffiti and curse words all over Ocasio's door, she said.

In response, Rivera spoke to the young man's father, and together they forced him to clean up the mess.

"He made the kid come upstairs and clean my whole door," Ocasio recalled. "He did his job to the best of his ability, sometimes he overdid his job."

After leaving the job, Rivera would still walk over to Lindsey Park from his home in Bushwick to visit his former co-workers and say hello to tenants.

"I spoke to him on the 13th of September," Foglia said. "He said that his job was going well and that he liked it. He was doing all right. The guys there were getting him an apartment, a newer place."

But the promise of that new home never came.

Rivera went missing on Sept. 22, and someone later sent a text from his phone to Direct Building Management, which operates the city-subsidized apartment buildings where he worked, saying he'd quit, a police source said.

Police later got a tip from someone who called him or herself "Peter Pan," saying Rivera's body was buried in the backyard of building down the street.

A cadaver-sniffing dog eventually tracked him down in the backyard of 54 Himrod St. on Oct. 6, police said.

Authorities believe that Rivera got into an argument with the former superintendent of the Himrod Street buildings where he worked and that the man killed him, wrapped his body in plastic bags, and wheeled him down the street and into a cart, according to sources who said investigators had a video of the transport.

Police hadn't made any arrests as of Friday.

The Medical Examiner's Office has yet to determine Rivera's official cause of death, though police sources said he'd been strangled.

Workers at Direct Building Management said they were grieving his death.

"As a family, we feel like we're still trying to process this," said an employee there, who declined to give her name.

A memorial for Daniel Rivera will be held at the Lindsey Park at 67 Manhattan Ave. on Nov. 9 between 5 and 8 p.m.