NEW YORK (AP) — The mystery surrounding the killing of a pregnant woman deepened Monday, as investigators looked into a strange note left at the scene and discovered that her fiance was still married to another woman.
The body of Vindalee Smith, 38, was found Saturday morning in a pool of blood, a gaping hole in her neck. She was eight months pregnant and expected to deliver the boy in about two weeks, but the fetus did not survive.
The death was ruled a homicide, but no arrests have been made.
Smith, a devout Seventh-Day Adventist, had been planning to marry Anthony Jackman on Sunday in a small ceremony at her church. Most of her friends said they had not known her fiance long, if at all, and some didn’t know his name.
But she could not have married Jackman legally because he has a wife in New Jersey. Police said the two are estranged, with Jackman living with his mother during the week and the wife living in their former home. A message left at the house believed to belong to the couple and one left at the home believed to belong to his mother were not immediately returned Monday.
Jackman was among friends and family interviewed by police. He was released, though police said no one has been cleared as a suspect.
Investigators discovered a bizarre typed note in the woman’s apartment referencing the 2002 Washington sniper case that read: “I will kill 1 pregnant woman a month starting now until Lee Boyd Malvo is set free!” It was signed “the apprentice” with a smiley face.
It’s not clear what, if any, relevance the note had to the death of Smith. Investigators are trying to determine whether it represented legitimate evidence or a ruse meant to throw them off track.
Malvo was 17 when he went on the cross-country killing spree with John Allen Muhammad. The pair was linked to 27 shootings across the country, including 10 fatal attacks in the Washington area. Malvo is serving a life sentence with no parole in Virginia. Muhammad was executed in Virginia in 2009.
Malvo testified that a second phase of the plan included shooting a pregnant woman.
Smith, who has four other children in their teens and 20s, had been living in a basement apartment in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn and had recently moved in. Police said there was no sign of forced entry, and no weapon was recovered.
It’s not clear whether Jackman was the father of her unborn child.
Smith had joined the her church about three years ago, said Andrew Connor, a deacon.
“She was dedicated to her family,” he said. “She was beautiful and this is very surreal.”
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)