SoHo hotel murder victim immigrated to New York for a better life

SoHo hotel murder victim immigrated to New York for a better life

When Denisse Oleas-Arancibia immigrated from Ecuador to New York five years ago, all she wanted to do was provide a good life for her family.

The day before the 38-year-old sex worker was found dead on the floor of a hotel room in a swanky SoHo neighbourhood during New York Fashion Week was a “normal day,” her son recalled.

She made her son breakfast at their Queens home, blessed him with the sign of the cross and sent him off to school in a taxi.

Edwin Cevallos, 18, told the New York Daily News that he had no idea what his mother did for a living in order to give him a good life and to support the family they had left behind in Ecuador.

“My mom, she worked very hard,” Mr Cevallos said. “She was working all day. She was always working for us to give us the best life in this country.”

He knew that she went to Manhattan for work every day at 2pm. And he knew that she always returned home.

Denisse Oleas-Arancibia was found dead on 8 February at the SoHo 54 Hotel in Manhattan

(Provided by family )

New York City Police say the brutal killing happened when the woman, later identified as Oleas-Arancibia, and a man argued about how long he would be allowed to stay in the room.

The argument escalated and turned violent when the man, alleged to be 26-year-old Raad Almansoori, flew into a rage and bludgeoned Oleas-Arancibia with the iron.

Mr Almansoori’s crime spree continued in Arizona which led to his arrest in connection to two separate stabbings. He admitted to the authorities that he was on the run after killing a woman in New York.

While Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg fights to have Mr Almansoori extradited back to New York, Oleas-Arancibia’s family has been fighting their own battle to raise enough money to get her body back to Ecuador. Finally, they did.

Her son has also returned home to Ecuador to be with his father, grandparents and the rest of the family, Oleas-Arancibia’s sister María Oleas told The Independent.

I already took my sister back home in Ecuador to be buried,” she said. “I also took my nephew back to Ecuador to be with his father and grandparents and the rest of the family.”

“We are glad he (Mr Almansoori) is caught and can’t wait to see him be indicted for my sister’s case,” she added.

The Murder

Denisse Oleas-Arancibia was found dead on 8 February at the SoHo 54 Hotel on Watts Street near Sixth Avenue in New York City.

A hotel maid found the woman’s lifeless body with trauma to her face in a room on the 11th floor of the hotel around 10.30am.

Bits of plastic were found embedded in her head and a bloody iron was next to her, according to authorities. A pair of blood-splattered men’s pants were found alongside her body.

Officers said her death was determined to have been caused by blunt force trauma to the head.

Hotel staff made the discovery at the SoHo 54 Hotel on Watts Street near Sixth Avenue in New York

(Google maps)

Victoria Marinucci, who was in town from Los Angeles for New York Fashion Week, was staying in the room next door to where Oleas-Arancibia’s body was discovered.

She recalled a chaotic scene at the hotel, which she said was packed at the time with people attending upcoming New York Fashion Week events.

“The manager was banging and screaming, ‘Hello? Hello? Hello?’” Ms Marinucci told local news outlets. “Then there were detectives everywhere.”

“It was really scary,” she added. “We knew that the person didn’t make it.”

‘She just wouldn’t die’

Shortly after Mr Almansoori’s arrest, the suspect blabbed to the cops about the murder and attempted killings, going into “graphic detail” about how he took the life of Oleas-Arancibia basically unprompted, Detective Jeremy Goebel with the Surprise Police Department, said at his court hearing last month.

Mr Almansoori described to Arizona police that he and the victim had met on an online website and arranged a meet-up at the hotel in the SoHo neighbourhood.

He tried more than once to end Oleas-Arancibia’s life before finally succeeding, Det Goebel revealed.

After a dispute over how long he would stay in the hotel room, Mr Almansoori began choking her with his hands and forearms.

He then tried to snap her neck, turning it from side to side, and hit her in the head with an iron multiple times, he added.

Mr Almansoori then tried to suffocate Oleas-Arancibia with a sock and blanket, according to Det Goebel.

“In his words, ‘She just wouldn’t die,’” said the prosecutor questioning the detective.

Suspect fled hotel wearing slain woman’s leggings

Surveillance footage released by the NYPD captured Mr Almansoori fleeing the violent scene of the murder wearing the slain mom’s “distinctive” leggings.

The suspect was seen walking down on the sidewalk near the hotel wearing light-coloured leggings, a tan jacket, a dark-coloured hoodie and a beanie.

Meanwhile, a pair of blood-splattered men’s pants were found alongside Oleas-Arancibia’s body.

“We have video of the woman arriving at the location, wearing a distinct pair of leggings and later on we have a male leaving the hotel wearing the same leggings and we also have a pair of male pants in the hotel room,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said before Mr Almansoori’s arrest.

“There was blood all over the pants.”

Surveillance video caught the suspect fleeing the crime scene wearing the slain mom’s leggings


Alleged crime spree continues in Arizona with two stabbings

Following Oleas-Arancibia’s murder, Almansoori, 26, fled to Arizona, where he was arrested on 18 February for stabbing two other women in two separate cases.

He told police he’d come from New York because he was on the run after the murder.

“Not a single woman on this planet likes me so I was very upset,” he told police, adding that he was addicted to sex and was broken because of it.

Commissioner Lindsey Coates ruled that Mr Almansoori would remain behind bars in Maricopa County, Arizona, without bail due to the danger he poses to the public.

Suspect pleads not guilty in Arizona stabbing cases

Mr Almansoori has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and other felony charges in Arizona in separate stabbings of two women.

He was arraigned on 5 March in Maricopa County Superior Court on charges stemming from the stabbings on 17 February in Phoenix and on 18 February in the suburb of Surprise.

Raad Almansoori was arrested weeks later for the mother-of-two’s murder

(Surprise Police Department)

Mr Almansoori’s only comments during the two-minute hearing were stating his name and birth date when asked by the court to do so, FOX10 reported.

His trial on the Arizona charges was scheduled for 2 July.

Arizona case sparks political feud

In the meantime, Arizona officials have refused to extradite Mr Almansoori to New York to face the charges in the hotel murder due to the city’s “soft on crime” policies.

It has sparked a political feud between Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell, who is a Republican, and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is a Democrat.

Mitchell said Mr Almansoori must first be tried in Arizona for the stabbings before being extradited.

But Bragg said since the suspect is facing homicide charges in New York, he should be prosecuted here first.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office will continue to press for Mr Almansoori’s return to New York, said office spokesperson Emily Tuttle.

“We are proceeding as we do in each and every case involving an out-of-state arrest,” she said. “Following the facts and the law to ensure justice is served.”

Queens migrant mom ‘worked hard’ to give family the ‘best life’

Five years ago, Denisse Oleas-Arancibia immigrated from Ecuador to the United States for a better life.

A better life, not only for herself, but for her family – including her 18-year-old son, her 13-year-old son, her three siblings and her parents.

All remained in South America except for her 18-year-old son Edwin Cevallos, who came to the US three years after she did.

“She wanted a better life because in Ecuador is a lot of bad people. It was so dangerous,” he told The New York Daily News in the days following her death. “She gave us the life that we always wanted.”

Mr Cevallos said he called police on 8 February when she didn’t come home from work the night before.

“I was waiting for her to come the next day and at 1pm I saw that she didn’t come (home) so then I called the police,” he said.

Later that day, police broke the heartbreaking news to her son that her body had been found.

“I am in shock. I can’t believe this happened. This is surprising,” Mr Cevallos added. “Everything here in New York reminds me of her. Everything.”

‘It was a normal day’

Mr Cevallos said he last spoke to her a day before her death when she woke him up for school and made him breakfast.

“Bacon with eggs and a milkshake of banana,” he said. “It was a normal day.”

She then paid for a taxi to get him to school and blessed him with the sign of the cross.

“Then she said, ‘Goodbye, I love you,’” Mr Cevallos said.

Just after 9:20am that same day, he texted her asking for money for a haircut. She sent him a voice message in Spanish and told him she’d send the barber money through her phone when he got there, which she did.

Mr Cevallos added that he didn’t know what his mother did for a living or why she was at the hotel that day.

“All I knew is that everyday at 2pm she went to Manhattan to work,” he said.

“My mom, she worked very hard,” Cevallos said. “She was working all day. She was always working for us to give us the best life in this country.”

He added that “in the week (before) she was like, sad. She was so nervous and she was worried,” Cevallos told the New York Daily News in Spanish.

However, he added that he did not know if that fear was connected to her death.

Denisse Oleas-Arancibia immigrated from Ecuador to the United States for a better life


He described his mother as happy and fun-loving, weeping as he showed off a photo of her from his 18th birthday dinner at a Brazilian restaurant.

“She was always happy and having fun,” he said.

“The best part of her is she always helped us and the family and she was very organized,” he added, breaking down in tears often as he talked about his mom. “She always had money to cover anything in the house. She didn’t owe no money to anybody.”

“I want (people to know) that she was always helping people. She was a very good person. She never hurt anybody. She was always paying for everything. She never owed money to anybody. She was always looking to help them move forward,” Mr Cevallos said.

A GoFundMe to help the family with funeral expenses and support for her children was created by María Oleas.

On behalf of the family of Denisse-Oleas Arancibia, we are asking our community to please help support us in raising the funding needed to properly say goodbye to our beloved family.

“Denisse was a mother full of so much life and opportunity who leaves behind two sons who now have to go on without their loving mom.”

“Denisse’s life was taken away too soon and her boys are struggling with the events surrounding this loss and are in need of any and all support. Let’s help my family send my sister back home to Ecuador. Please help the family in any way possible. Thank you.”

Florida woman recalls chilling encounter with suspect before hotel murder

Following Mr Almansoori’s arrest last month, Florida native Leah Palian claimed she was attacked and sexually assaulted by Mr Almansoori in April 2023.

Ms Palian, who said she previously worked with Mr Almansoori at a restaurant in Orlando, recounted the alleged attack to Eyewitness News.

“He gets right on top of me on the couch and he starts strangling me with the utmost force, he just goes directly under my chin, he knew exactly what he was doing, he cut off my airways,” she said. “Immediately like I was laying there in fear for my life.”

Police managed to catch Mr Almansoori when he fled with her car, but Florida prosecutors ended up dropping the most violent charges, the outlet reported.

“After reviewing all the evidence and facts related to the case, we concluded there was insufficient evidence to prove the sexual battery and aggravated assault charges beyond a reasonable doubt,” Orlando State Attorney Monique H. Worrell said.

Mr Almansoori was able to post bond in Florida before making his way to New York City.

“I told the prosecutors if they let him walk that he was capable of doing this,” Ms Palian told Eyewitness News following the news of his arrest for the New York murder.

“It’s just so disheartening that this is allowed to happen,” she added.

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