East Elmhurst man indicted in murder of landlady after argument over back rent turned deadly: DA

An East Elmhurst man was indicted in the killing of his landlord after an argument over rent escalated into violence last week.
File photo by Lloyd Mitchell

An East Elmhurst man was indicted for the murder of his landlady after a rent dispute turned deadly, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced Wednesday.

Davi Vidal, 19, is accused of strangling 55-year-old Zoraida Leo inside her home on 96th Street where he lived in an attic apartment.

Vidal was criminally charged with murder in the second degree and he faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

According to the charges, on Monday, Dec. 4, Leo told a witness that she wanted to talk to Vidal about back rent he owed her for his attic apartment and she summoned Vidal to her apartment that evening.

On Dec. 5, at approximately 5 p.m., Leo’s son came to check on his mother after she missed work and family members had been unable to contact her. When Leo did not answer the door, her son entered her apartment and discovered his mother’s body at the entrance to a bathroom. He called the police.

When officers from the 115th Precinct in Jackson Heights responded to the call, they found Vidal at the scene. He was crying and had scratch marks on his face.

EMS pronounced Leo dead at the scene. An autopsy by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that Leo died by strangulation, according to the charges.

“We will seek justice for the brutally murdered victim and her loved ones,” Katz said. “The defendant will have to answer the charge that he violently took her life.”
Vidal, who also went by the name Deiby, will be arraigned at a later date, according to the DA’s office.