The story has been updated.
PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. -- Police are asking for the public's help in finding whoever murdered a 76-year-old woman in her Pleasantville home.
At least six days before Halloween, Linda Misek-Falkoff, 76, a widow living alone at 79 Grandview Ave., a few blocks from the heart of the village, was stabbed to death.
The Westchester County Medical Examiner's Office ruled her death a homicide on Saturday -- the first murder involving a Pleasantville resident since 1996, which also was an unsolved murder by stabbing.
Police have no suspects and have been unable to locate any relatives of the widow, who lived alone in the house the past four years, and in Pleasantville at least 20 years.
Determining the cause of death was difficult because her body was badly decomposed, police said. The woman's home is piled high with boxes and filled with rats, including many dead ones in her basement which adjoins Washington Avenue.
Grandview Avenue was sealed off with crime tape Saturday as county and village authorities searched the home for clues. Some were wearing full hazardous materials gear and respirators. An evidence tent was set up on the front lawn.
Thursday, the home was found unlocked by police who were notified shortly after 4:30 p.m. by a mail carrier. The mail carrier found newspapers and mail accumulating near the front door, police said A Pleasantville police officer then entered and discovered the woman dead inside the residence, according to Kieran O'Leary, spokesman for the Westchester County Police.
County Police Commissioner George N. Longworth, at a Saturday news conference in Hawthorne, said, "The fact that Falkoff was stabbed was not determined until late Friday. . . .We're not going to disclose the number of wounds sustained in the attack at this time."
"We don't want to be more specific at this time. ... We are still processing the scene,'' Longworth said. "We are asking for the public's help in this process. ... We also would like to hear from anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity around her home in the past week."
"There will be more to follow. There is no evidence that drugs played a role in this incident, nor is there any indication there is a safety issue to anyone else in the community," the county police commissioner said.
Longworth would not say if any weapon was found, but said there is no indication it was a sex crime.
Friends, associates and anyone with information, which will be treated confidentially, are asked to call Westchester County Police tips line at 1-800-898-8477 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Longworth was flanked by Pleasantville Police Chief Richard Love and Village Mayor Peter Scherer. Neither Pleasantville official made any comments nor spoke to reporters.
The crime scene is several blocks from the Jacob Burns Film Center and the Pleasantville Farmers' Market, which went on as normal Saturday morning in a cold, steady drizzle. Crows could be heard cawing loudly near Falkoff's house. The quiet street remained lined with Halloween decorations from Friday night's trick-and-treating. Neighbors said they suspected something was amiss when police began returning to the home Friday.
“As a result of decomposition, the determination of the cause of death (was) pending the completion of an autopsy by the Westchester Medical Examiner’s Office,” Longworth said earlier.
The last stabbing death in Westchester County came in August in North Salem. The Daily Voice reported on that here:
It's been nearly 19 years since the last unsolved murder involving a Pleasantville resident.
On Jan. 7, 1996, Thomas Dorr, a Pleasantville volunteer firefighter was walking into the woods in the Graham Hills Park in Mount Pleasant, less than a mile from their home on Pollywiggle Lane with his wife and son to feed the wild turkeys due to a snowstorm. After feeding the turkeys, he was going to the local Pleasantville Firehouse for stand-by duty. His wife and son returned home, leaving Dorr alone to feed the turkeys.
Dorr never made it to the firehouse and never returned home. Firefighters began a search for him the following day. On Jan. 8, members of the Pleasantville Fire Department discovered the snow-covered body of Dorr, who had been stabbed to death. His wallet and keys were never recovered. Dorr's murder has never been solved.
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