Ex-Laborer Pleads Guilty in 2015 Murder of Lois Colley, Westchester Socialite – The New York Times
Nearly four years after an 83-year-old socialite was found bludgeoned to death at her home in North Salem, N.Y. — a crime that unnerved residents of the quiet, pastoral town in Westchester County — a former worker on the estate pleaded guilty on Monday to second-degree murder.
The former worker, Esdras Marroquin Gomez, 34, had been a day laborer on the 300-acre horse farm owned by the woman, Lois Colley, whose body was discovered in a laundry room of her home on Nov. 9, 2015. The police said that she had blunt trauma to the skull, and that there was no sign of forced entry.
Mr. Gomez, who was arrested in November 2017, will face a maximum penalty of 25 years to life in prison when he is sentenced on June 13.
In a news conference on Monday, Anthony A. Scarpino Jr., the district attorney for Westchester County, said Mr. Gomez used a fire extinguisher to crush Ms. Colley’s head. The extinguisher was eventually found in a plastic bag in a pond near the home, and DNA tests confirmed it had been used as a murder weapon.
“Prosecutors say the motive for the killing stemmed from a dispute with the Colley family starting in 2012, while Gomez was a day laborer on the farm,” according to a statement from the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office. The Journal News, a local news outlet, said Mr. Gomez had been pursuing workers’ compensation from the Colley family after he was injured at the estate.
The district attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for further comment; nor did a lawyer for Mr. Gomez.
The 2015 killing rattled North Salem, where Ms. Colley had been well known as a fox hunter, a philanthropist and a pillar of the community. She was found dead on Windswept Farm, the family estate, in her Colonial-style white house at the top of a long, winding driveway, far from the main road.
Mr. Gomez was not charged with murder until two years after Ms. Colley was killed. In the meantime, residents of the patrician town grappled with a lack of answers, wondering if a criminal was still in their midst as the authorities interviewed residents and searched through reservoirs, hayfields and horse paddocks.
A few days after Ms. Colley was murdered, Mr. Gomez fled to Guatemala. After he became a person of interest in the killing in early 2016, a manhunt for him took on extraordinarily broad parameters. “There followed an intensive, international and multi-jurisdictional manhunt with the cooperation of the U.S. Department of State, the governments of Guatemala and Mexico, and the F.B.I.,” Mr. Scarpino said.
Mr. Gomez had been working illegally in Mexico, and immigration authorities ordered him deported to Guatemala. But he was placed on a flight that stopped in Miami, and when he touched down in the United States in 2017, Mr. Gomez was arrested by F.B.I. agents, who had been told he was onboard.
At a news conference on Monday, Ms. Colley’s husband, Eugene, thanked the authorities who worked on the case. “We, the family, had a tough time,” he said. “But this will help.”