By Gina Martinez
The mysterious death of a Ridgewood grandmother has stunned the community.
On Oct. 6 police arrested 30-year-old Christopher Fuhrer after finding the body of his grandmother, Erika Kraus-Breslin, in her home.
Police visited Kraus-Breslin’s 67-08 65 St. home the day before after responding to a request from a family member to do a wellness check on the 85-year old. When officers arrived, Kraus-Breslin’s grandson immediately told officers his grandmother had died and directed police to a bedroom where her dead body was discovered in multiple layers of plastic bags, police said.
Fuhrer told officers Kraus-Breslin died May 21. He said that she suffered from discomfort from bed sores, so he turned her on her side and left the room. When he returned, he found her face down and unresponsive. Fuhrer covered the smell of the decaying body with air fresheners, police said.
Fuhrer was arraigned Oct. 7, and charged with felony concealment of a corpse, the Queens district attorney said. Bail was set $350,000.
Kraus-Breslin, an immigrant from Germany, had two children and four grand kids. She was married until her husband died 15 years ago. Breslin had worked part time at Rudy’s Bakery in Ridgewood. The owner, Toni Binati, described Kraus-Breslin as someone who never acted her age, was active and healthy and loved the outdoors.
“She worked for me in the late ‘80s into the ‘90s — she left here over 11 years ago,” she said. “I know her as a co-worker, and she was a wonderful person. She was very caring and very good at her job/ She was the grandma of the bakery.
Binati said Kraus-Breslin was rarely ever sick.
“I’m very surprised, I almost still don’t believe it,” she said. “She was very stubborn and not into medicine. She was into healing and praying a lot. She didn’t believe in medicine, she always had a remedy. When we were sick she would tell us to eat chicken soup.”
Binati also knew her grandson Fuhrer, whom Kraus-Breslin loved.
“I met him when he was a teenager,” she said. “He would come here to pick her up. She talked very highly of Christopher. I remember when he came to live with her, she said ‘Toni, I lost my husband, so God is sending me Christopher. He’s gonna keep me young.’ Her husband was her soulmate. They enjoyed going to the city, to parks, and cafes.”
Fuhrer moved in with his grandmother after trouble with his mother and became Kraus-Breslin’s main caregiver.
“I remember her coming in one day after Christopher came to live with her and she said ‘this is God sending me someone to care for’,” Binati said. “He took my husband and now I have someone to care for, someone to cook for and I understood. I understood that as a grandmother.”
Binati said customers were still coming in everyday talking about Kraus-Breslin and giving their condolences. She was well-known in the community and many considered her family, especially in the bakery. She said it’s not so much the fact that she died but the way that she died that has shocked Ridgewood residents.
“He must have just panicked and did not know what to do,” Binati said. “She must have told him ‘if I get sick, don’t call anybody’’.
The medical examiner’s officer will determine the cause of Kraus-Breslin’s death. Investigations were still ongoing.
Fuhis is scheduled to return to court on Oct. 21
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart