Following the discovery of a Forest Hills woman’s body inside a duffel bag near the Jackie Robinson Parkway and Forest Park on Saturday, April 16, members of the Forest Hills and Kew Gardens communities had different ideas on how to prevent anything like this from happening again in their area.
The deceased was identified by police as 51-year-old Queens resident Orsolya Gaal, who leaves behind a husband and two sons, according to authorities. Based on a blood trail from the crime scene, police believe Gaal was killed in her home at 72-24 Juno St.
Reports indicate that Gaal was stabbed at least 60 times, but an NYPD spokesperson could not immediately confirm the report. A public affairs spokesperson from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner told QNS that the medical examiner determined the cause of death as sharp force injuries to Gaal’s neck, but could not comment on the alleged stabbings.
The NYPD spokesperson told QNS that Gaal’s husband claims to have received threatening text messages from the person who he believes to be her killer shortly after the murder took place, but could not provide additional details at this time.
According to Ina Cohen, a friend of Gaal, the family was very tight-knit.
“The kids came to our church, the Church of the Garden nursery school,” Cohen said. “Those poor kids are without a mother. I feel terrible for them.”
Aarjune Jack, the family’s electrician, also spoke highly of Gaal and her family.
“There is no reason to suspect any trouble for this family,” Jack said. “Everyone loved them. I am truly shocked by the news.”
Police are offering a $3,500 reward for information related to Gaal’s death.
While illegal dumping had long been an issue at Forest Park, the discovery of Gaal’s body has heightened the concerns among some in the neighborhood. However, they mostly remain undeterred in going to the park.
According to Steven Madsen of Forest Hills Gardens, the park could benefit from more security in the area.
“More park security, lights and security cameras could certainly help the area,” Madsen said.
He also noted this could help keep bicyclists and those walking along the trails in the park from getting in each other’s way. While he acknowledged many people are likely worried about their safety at the park following the body discovery, Madsen still intends to continue walking along the park three or four times a week.
Kew Gardens resident Chris Graham had recently moved into the neighborhood and was initially hesitant to visit Forest Park after the body discovery.
“The body was discovered on the day I wanted to explore the trails and walk my dog in the area for the first time,” Graham said. “But I eventually decided to do that the next day [after everything blew over].”
While Graham is not on board with the idea of beefing up security in and around the park, he did feel the area could benefit from more street lights and emergency phones.
Another resident, who wished not to be identified, said he was considering carrying a concealed weapon with him when going through the park. However, he didn’t think it was necessary to add more security officers to the area.
“There are other areas in New York City that could use that increase in manpower more than here,” he said. While he did express reluctance to the idea of more security cameras and hesitance toward more lights, he definitely felt an increase in emergency phone stations would benefit Forest Park.
Judy Zemlock, who lives in a Kew Gardens building fairly close to where the body was discovered, emphasized the importance of caution for those who wish to go to the park, especially at night.
“I never walk my dog in the park at night,” Zemlock said. “I’ll certainly be a little more reluctant to walk my dog in the woods alone now.”
While she noted that people have dumped all kinds of things in the park’s wooded area — including whole cars — this is the first instance that comes to mind for Zemlock that a human body was dumped in the area. Zemlock said she feels that Forest Park could certainly use more lights for the night and is also open to the idea of adding security cameras, though she also noted some nearby residents are also able to see what is going on at the parts of the park from their own windows.
She also noted that a nice area like her Kew Gardens neighborhood may not be as desperate for more security officers when compared to other areas.
“It’s each individual’s responsibility to stay cautious,” Zemlock said.