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In 2003, Rodriguez told NYPD detectives that he buried Romero’s body in a wooded area near his family’s house in Rosedale. Her body was never recovered.
By Forum Staff
A man accused of killing his estranged girlfriend more than a decade ago has been brought to justice after eluding authorities when he fled to his native Domincan Republic back in 2002.
Rafael Rodriguez, 47, was the last person seen with the Corona woman in November 2002 and at that time he was overheard threatening to kill and dismember her.
District Attorney Brown said, “The defendant did all he could to elude justice, but today the Court sentenced him to a very long term of incarceration to punish him for this vicious crime and protect society. A young woman – the victim’s daughter – was forced to grow up without her mother because of this defendant’s rage and brutality. It is my hope that this resolution provides the victim’s daughter – who will celebrate her birthday tomorrow again without her mother – and her other family members some closure and peace.”
In July, a jury found Rodriguez guilty of first-degree manslaughter, aggravated criminal contempt, first-degree criminal contempt, tampering with physical evidence and third-degree bail jumping. Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth C. Holder, sentenced Rodriguez to a total of 24 1/3 years behind bars to be followed by 5 years’ post release supervision.
Trial records show that Rodriguez was seen arguing with the victim, 25-year-old Wanda Romero, around 2:30 a.m. on November 23, 2002, in a Queens restaurant.
Witnesses say that Rodriguez was heard saying that he would “cut her into pieces.” Ms. Romero had an active order of protection against Rodriguez at the time of her disappearance relating to a then-pending assault case. Just prior to police investigating Ms. Romero’s disappearance as a missing person’s case, the defendant escaped to the Dominican Republic. In 2003, Rodriguez was indicted and was extradited from Panama in 2015. The body of Ms. Romero has never been found.