Connecticut police are looking for a man they suspect may have abandoned his 5-year-old daughter in a New York bus terminal after killing the child’s mother, according to multiple reports.
Police found the girl on the second-floor concourse of the Port Authority Bus Terminal Monday morning and took her to the police station where they determined that her father allegedly left her in the station, NBC New York reports.
Officials are now looking for 32-year-old Elmer Gomez Ruono, who Stamford police say is seen on surveillance video leaving the bus terminal at 8:30 a.m. — 90 minutes before the girl was found at around 10 a.m., NBC reports.
The little girl pointed investigators to her Courtland Avenue home in Stamford, where police arrived to find the child’s mother dead, Stamford Police Capt. Richard Conklin told the Stamford Advocate.
Officials told reporters that the girl was unharmed and is now in the custody of New York City’s children services.
Conklin said Ruono was seen on the surveillance footage entering the terminal with the little girl; Lt. Tom Barcello told the publication that Ruono is a person of interest in the investigation. Barcello added that the situation is being considered a murder investigation although the woman’s death has not yet been officially ruled a homicide.
Now, as investigators search for the man, officials are working to piece together the circumstances surrounding the woman’s death, according to the Advocate.
“We know very, very little because they only moved here within the last day or two from New Jersey,” Conklin told the publication. “We are struggling to come up to speed on this very rapidly.”
The girl and her mother had recently moved to Stamford from Flemington, New Jersey, over the weekend, both NBC and WREG reports. Police said the girls’ parents had recently separated and Ruono is believed to be the girl’s father.
Police said, Ruono is about five-foot-eight, 140lbs with long black hair, and a medium build and complexion, WREG reports.
More in depth…
The custody for a 5-year-old girl remains uncertain after officials say she was caught in the middle of a “combustible” relationship between her parents and may have witnessed her mother’s homicide.
As a multistate manhunt has continued for her father — 32-year-old Elmer Gomez Ruano who is a person of interest in his wife’s death — the child who speaks mostly Spanish was interviewed by authorities on Tuesday about what happened inside the Glenbrook apartment.
The girl’s mother, a Guatemalan native whose identity has not been released, was found dead inside a third-floor unit at the Courtland Glen Cooperative Apartments on Monday.
The state Medical Examiner’s Office ruled on Tuesday her death was a homicide — the city’s second of 2016. Stamford Police Capt. Richard Conklin said there were signs of a struggle, but the cause of death has not been released.
Conklin said the motive for the homicide appears to be domestic, and called the couple’s relationship “very, very combustible.”
Police said Gomez Ruano abandoned his daughter Monday morning at the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal.
Gomez Ruano was last seen on video surveillance entering the bus depot with his daughter. He told the girl to wait for him, but he never returned.
The girl told New York authorities her father put her mother in the hospital, Stamford Lt. Tom Borcello said.
“Every law enforcement community in the tri-state area is looking for him,” said Stamford Police Sgt. Chris Broems, who is the lead investigator in the case.
Broems said a warrant has not been issued for Gomez Ruano’s arrest.
Gomez Ruano was separated from his wife before the couple recently reunited. Gomez Ruano had been living with roommates at a Waterside apartment, while his wife and daughter were in Flemington, N.J.
The family moved into the Courtland Avenue apartment over the weekend.
Gomez Ruano had been working for about six months as a dish washer at the Bedford Street Diner, across the street from the police department, Conklin said.
Dorothy Agostino, who works at the diner, said Gomez Ruano was a good employee, did his job and arrived for work on time every day.
“Horrible, just horrible,” she said while shaking her head.
Agostino said Gomez Ruano had talked to his co-workers in the kitchen about his wife moving to Stamford.
“He told the guys in the back about it and he was very happy,” she said.
The family even had a party at the apartment on Sunday to celebrate getting back together and their new home.
But the apartment became a crime scene by Monday morning, Conklin said.
Authorities discovered the woman’s body after the child was found alone in the bus terminal. The girl told police her mother may have gone to the hospital. But after police could not find the woman at a hospital, the girl was able to provide enough information to lead authorities to the Glenbrook apartment.
Barcello said the girl had a cell phone with her when she was found. However, it remained unclear Tuesday if that helped lead authorities to the apartment.
Barcello said the state Department of Children and Families was applying to take temporary custody of the child.
When one parent is killed and the other is a suspect, authorities generally try to find a family member who “is appropriate and willing” to take custody of the child, according to DCF.
“If there is no relative able to care for the child, we will place the child in an already licensed foster home,” a DCF spokesman said in an email.
DCF would not comment further, but it released a brief statement about the case.
“The department is deeply saddened by what happened to the mother and troubled by the fact that the child was found abandoned in the Port Authority,” the statement said.
Port Authority spokesman Joseph Pentangelo said the girl was found on the second-floor concourse in the midtown bus terminal shortly after 10 a.m. Monday. Commuters alerted Port Authority Police after seeing the girl alone for an extended period of time. Police said she was unharmed and in good physical condition.
Stamford police, the U.S. Marshals Service, Port Authority Police and the New York Police Department have launched an extensive search for Gomez Ruano, who is described as 5-foot-8 and about 140 pounds. Police said he has long black hair, with a medium build and medium complexion.
The homicide is the second in Stamford this year. The first occurred on July 18 when two-month-old Bella Redondo stopped breathing at an East Side day care. The day care owner, Nydia Carrillo-Maldonado, 32, has been charged with first-degree manslaughter.
The last homicide in Glenbrook occurred in September 2008 when Angela Labbadia, 62, killed her daughter, Christina Labbadia, 41, before committing suicide in the Laurelton House apartment complex on Glenbrook Road.
Police determined Angela Labbadia, who suffered severe depression, was in declining health and faced mounting financial issues and eviction, shot and killed her daughter before turning the gun on herself.
Police ask anyone with information about Gomez Ruano’s whereabouts to call investigators at 203-977-4421.
Having a CLEAR PHOTO of him would be nice.