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Teen-ager’s Trip Ends in Tragedy

February 24, 1988

NEW YORK (AP) _ Her mother wanted her to return home to Massachusetts, but 17-year-old Lenora Rolle wanted to stretch her vacation in New York by just one day. It turned out to be her last.

″I begged and pleaded with her to come home,″ Coralie Rolle said after learning that her daughter had been shot to death at a party in Brooklyn. ″I missed her. I wanted her back. I didn’t like her being there too long. I begged her to be careful.″

Miss Rolle, a high school senior in Cambridge, Mass., had used the money she earned as a cashier at Warburton’s pastry shop in Harvard Square to finance the trip to New York, where she stayed with aunts in the Bronx.

Detectives say she was at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan on Monday night with a 15-year-old friend, identified only as Bianca, when the two were lured away from their Boston-bound bus by a peddler of exotic fragrances.

The man, who may have known Bianca, urged the girls to go to a party at his mother’s house in Brooklyn, and promised to pay their bus fare home.

″She was a good girl, but she liked to party,″ her mother said. She also said that Lenora was not very streetwise.

Police Sgt. Arthur Stoecker, who is investigating the case, said at least seven people were at the party; one of those in attendance told New York Newsday that there were about 15. Stoecker said a few empty crack vials were found in the apartment afterward.

After Miss Rolle arrived, police and witnesses say, she was approached by a man who demanded to have sex with her.

″Is she for me? Is this one for me?″ the man asked, according to a witness quoted by the New York Post.

When Miss Rolle refused, the man pulled out a 9mm hand-held machine gun and fired two shots into the floor, authorities said. He then forced her to undress and, as she screamed in protest, dragged her into a bedroom.

The other partygoers fled in terror. ″They were fearful for their own lives,″ Stoecker said.

He said the witnesses tried to telephone police, but were unable to get into an apartment building across the street. A street phone was out of order, they said.

After about a half-hour, they saw the gunman, still clutching his pistol, leave the building. When they entered, they found Miss Rolle dead.

An autopsy Wednesday determined that she had been shot in the back, the right thigh and the left arm, according to a spokeswoman for the city Medical Examiner’s office, Ellen Borakove. Samples were sent to a lab to determine if Miss Rolle had been raped.

Stoecker said police were searching Wednesday for a 20-year-old man with a previous felony conviction, but no official warrant had been issued.

The man spent two weeks in jail in 1986 on a misdemeanor sexual misconduct conviction, then was sentenced to three to nine years after pleading guilty to attempted robbery, officials said. Criminal court records indicate the sentencing was imposed in absentia, and prison officials said there was no record that he had served the time.

At Warburton’s pastry shop, which serves soups and pastries to a clientele heavily weighted with Harvard students and professors, manager Ed Buschard recalled Lenora Rolle as ″a very desirable employee.″

″I thought that she was a good worker,″ Buschard said. ″She came in on days when I was shorthanded. If I needed someone to work, she would work. ... She probably was a very popular girl in school, because she got along with everybody here at work. She seemed like a very outgoing girl.

″Everybody’s pretty shaken up. It’s a shock to everybody.″

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