By Ivan Pereira
For years South Ozone Park resident Jose Rivera has taken part in the New York City Marathon, but this weekend’s race was different for him.
The 42−year−old was a former manager of Niasha Delain, the pregnant woman who was found stabbed to death inside her South Ozone Park apartment on Oct. 25. Rivera said he was so saddened by his colleague’s death that he dedicated his marathon run to her.
“I got her a medal. That’s the best I can do,” said Rivera, who finished the 26.2−mile race under five hours.
Six years ago he met Delain at Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where he worked as a manager. Rivera said he was impressed with the young woman’s focus and dedication to her cashier duties at the terminal restaurants as well as her career.
“We had hired Niasha because she had a great smile, good personality. She was outgoing,” he said. “She said, ‘I want to build up my resumÉ so I can work somewhere.’ ”
Rivera, now a school aide for the city Department of Education, said he had no idea why someone would want to kill Delain. He left the airport job four years ago.
Police said Delain was found murdered by her mother and boyfriend after they had not heard from her for days. The city medical examiner’s office said she was close to nine months pregnant and had several stab wounds to her stomach. Her unborn baby was killed as well, according to the medical examiner.
No suspects had been named, no one had been arrested as of press time Tuesday and the investigation was ongoing, according to police.
Her former manager said Delain was always open to him and her fellow workers about anything on her mind, but never had problems with her family or even time for boyfriends.
“It’ been puzzling me, been bothering me,” Rivera said of the murder.
After finding out about her death, Rivera said he immediately used her as the focus of his run. He said every year when he runs the marathon, he tries to find a cause to keep his mental stamina up as he moves through the five boroughs.
“I had to dedicate this race to her,” he said.
Rivera said he planned to share his accomplishment with Delain’s family this week at her funeral in the Rockaways by presenting his medal, that he received for crossing the finish line, to Delain’s mother during the services.
“With this tragedy, with Niasha, when I saw it, I said, ‘I’m going to run it,’ and I did,” he said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e−mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 146.