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Slain Juilliard Student’s CD Player Found

May 29, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) _ Investigators, combing upper Manhattan woods for clues in the strangulation death of a Juilliard drama student, found a CD player that belonged to her, the police commissioner said Friday.

Commissioner Raymond Kelly spoke at police headquarters about the finding as 260 police recruits scoured the 196 acres of Inwood Hill Park, near the Henry Hudson Parkway.

He said the pink CD player, which was being tested for fingerprints, was discovered late Thursday by a police lieutenant, about 100 feet from where the body of 21-year-old Sarah Fox was found on Tuesday.

Inside was a CD by singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco, police said. It matched an empty CD case left in the victim’s apartment.

The commissioner also said that while police hadn’t ruled out the possibility that Fox’s killer had scattered tulip-tree petals on her nude body, it was more likely that the petals were scattered ``in a natural way.″

The city also announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Fox’s killer as the police recruits fanned out through the park.

The aspiring actress disappeared May 19 after leaving her home across the street from the park in workout clothes. Investigators said they have been surprised that no clothing was found at the scene.

On Thursday, neighbors holding a vigil for Fox said they were worried about their own safety. More than 100 people gathered in the yard of the Good Shepherd Catholic Church, across the street from Fox’s apartment building on Isham Street.

``Around here neighbors sit on the steps and talk. But with some lunatic on the streets, who knows?″ said Denese Joseph, a police evidence specialist who lives in Fox’s building but isn’t working on her case.

``I’m scared to walk down the street now,″ said Lucy Varela, 56, the wife of the building’s superintendent. ``Since this happened, I can’t sleep. I have to take pills because I’m afraid.″

Neighbors and community leaders said the Inwood area is normally quiet with few violent crimes, but recent crimes have alarmed them.

``Another incident took place in the park recently where two Little League kids were attacked by gangs,″ said Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat, who represents the 72nd District. ``There have been several incidents near here and we don’t want to slip back into the dark.″

Espaillat said the community would meet next Tuesday with police to discuss public safety.

The Rev. Kevin Devine, pastor of the church and an organizer of the vigil, told the somber group holding candles that Fox ``enriched her neighbors and her fellow students at Juilliard. ... We celebrate the richness of her life and the talent that she offered.″

Fox’s family, from Pennsauken, N.J., didn’t attend the vigil.

Fox attended the prestigious arts school at Lincoln Center, where the drama program numbers only about 75 students. Since the first class enrolled in 1968, several former students have gone on to stage and screen fame, including William Hurt, Patti LuPone, Val Kilmer, Kevin Kline, Christopher Reeve, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Robin Williams.

Fox’s family has said she took a semester away from the pressures of Juilliard to get to know the city, and herself, better. She was spending time running in the park and reading, but planned to return to the school in the fall.


Associated Press Writers Tom Hays and Madison J. Gray contributed to this report.

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