In the Baychester neighborhood of the Bronx, 39 Anndrea Caruth was a beloved pillar of the community.
Originally from St. Vincent, Anndrea moved to New York in her twenties and established an early childhood center, Kiddie College, in the multi-level home she shared with her fiancé, Lincoln Grant, and father, William. Carruth. Her life was happy and she had a new source of joy on the way: she was expecting a child. But on Sunday, January 3, 2016, Anndrea inexplicably disappeared.
His inability to show up for brunch was an early sign that something was wrong. “She had never done that”, her close friend Julia McCall Recount “Homicide in New York”, aeration Saturdays at 9/8c to Oxygen.
On Monday, Grant phoned McCall and asked if Anndrea was with her. When he found out she hadn’t shown up for their date, he called 911.
Why hadn’t he contacted the dispatchers earlier about the disappearance? It became a haunting question. Another riddle: why were Anndrea’s phone, wallet and keys still in the house? Was she really gone?
Although there are various reasons why people leave their homes, the fact that Anndrea was five months pregnant added to concerns, said Kristian Flood, a retired detective with the NYPD, 47th Precinct, Bronx, who worked the case. Detectives searched Caruth’s house and interviewed William, who was residing in a small spare apartment in the basement, and Grant, who shared the second floor with Anndrea. The nursery was located on the first floor.
Through interviews with Anndrea’s intimates, detectives learned that her relationship with Grant, a construction worker also from the Caribbean, was happy and strong. They were both thrilled to have a baby.
Detectives questioned why Grant, who had had no trouble with the law, took Anndrea’s phone, wallet and keys with him to work. He said he did it for safekeeping and voluntarily turned the items over to the police.
A K-9 unit was brought into the Caruth household. The dead dogs have not found any traces of the missing mother-to-be.
To expedite the search, McCall spoke to the media about her best friend’s disappearance. A pregnant woman was missing. The temperatures outside were freezing. “We know this is going to generate a lot of interest,” said News 12 journalist Amanda Bossard.
Every hour that passed increased the chances that the case would not end well, investigators said. Media attention to the high-profile disappearance has intensified the pressure to solve it – and fast.
Two days after the investigation began, detectives returned to the house to further investigate the theory that Anndrea never left the residence. Maybe the K-9 unit just failed to catch a clue.
“When we got back to the crime scene, I smelled a very faint smell of an overpowering odor and then it disappeared,” said Christopher Skulsky, a retired NYPD detective, 47th Precinct, Bronx.
Skulsky and Flood proceeded to search the house. They started in William’s basement apartment, where the incense was burning like the first sweep.
Detectives found two large plastic garbage bags streaked with a dark substance. William told them that on Monday night he had sex with a woman he was dating and then threw away the soiled laundry, former NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert K. Boyce said. A preliminary bag check confirmed William’s story, but detectives called the crime lab to collect the evidence.
Investigators dug deeper into Anndrea’s relationship with her father, who had come to New York decades earlier. He had helped her set up the nursery. But over the years, their bond suffered severe fractures due to financial constraints. On one occasion, according to one of Anndrea’s friends, William tried to shake his daughter off for hundreds of dollars to fix their broken boiler. Anndrea then discovered that the boiler had simply been turned off.
Detectives learned that “Anndrea and her father argued from time to time,” Flood said. Investigators also discovered from neighbors that there had been banging noises in Caruth’s house at the time of Anndrea’s disappearance. PThe police obtained a warrant to search William’s apartment.
“At this point, we have now conducted a very methodical in-depth search,” Flood said.
Analysis of the garbage bags revealed that the substance they contained was indeed blood. However, the police could not confirm at that time who it was. As the bags were gathered into evidence, investigators also noted dried blood on a wall. A hammer was also found nearby.
Investigators extinguished the burning incense and moved William out of the apartment. The horrible smell that Skulsky had noticed earlier in the house escalated and led investigators to a small cupboard next to the boiler room. Anndrea’s body was found buried there.
“She had blunt force trauma,” Flood said. “She had what appeared to be ligature marks around her neck…She died very violently.”
Detectives still do not know if William or Grant or the two men, who were at the 47th precinct, were responsible for the murder.
When detectives told Grant they had “found Anndrea”, his immediate reaction was relief – as if there had been a happy ending. “For a moment he looked very happy,” Skulsky said. “But when he realized it wasn’t good, he just broke down and started crying.”
In a separate interview room, Flood and Skulsky told William they needed to tell him about Anndrea. “He looks at both of us and he goes, ‘I think I need a lawyer,'” Skulsky told producers.
William Caruth was arrested and charged with second degree murder. He was fingerprinted and a DNA sample taken from both hands was sent to the crime lab.
The hammer found in his apartment bore Anndrea’s DNA. The medical examiner also found William’s DNA under Anndrea’s fingernails. This told Flood that in her final moments, “she was fighting for her life.”
Detectives discovered that William discovered that Anndrea was refinancing the house. Police believe this is what has pushed the already strained financial matters between father and daughter to the brink.
In October 2018, William Caruth, 64, was convicted of second degree murder. He received the maximum 25 year sentence in prison.
For more on this case and others like it, watch “Homicide in New York”,aeration Saturdays at 9/8c to Oxygen or stream episodes here.