Man Who Killed Harlem Woman May Spend Life In Prison

March 21, 2018

The NY Daily News reports that a man who killed a Harlem woman by pouring acetone down her pants and setting her on fire more than 20 years ago was sentenced Tuesday to a possible life term in prison.

Rafael Perez, 52, lit a match to intimidate the solvent-soaked Carmen Maria, 30, but ended up scorching her entire body during a Dec. 7, 1997, home invasion, prosecutors said.

Perez and accomplice Daniel Santana broke into Maria’s W. 150th St. second-floor while she slept. Her sister and a man were also in the apartment. The trio were bound with wire hangers while the burglars ransacked the place looking for drugs.

When none were found, they began torturing the man with a hot iron and shocking him. Maria died at Harlem Hospital about 10 hours. The suspects fled the scene.

Perez was extradited from the Dominican Republic to face charges in Manhattan Supreme Court in 2014.


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“For more than two decades, this case has haunted prosecutors, police and paramedics as one of the most violent and depraved crimes they had ever encountered,” Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. said in a statement.

Maria’s “injuries were so severe that she was completely unrecognizable to paramedics.”

Perez was convicted of murder and kidnapping in January. Santana was found guilty on the same charges in 2011. Both got 25 years to life behind bars.

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