It took almost 30 years to discover the mummified body of a pregnant woman with long brown hair crammed inside a steel drum at a home in Long Island, New York.
The barrel was wedged into a crawl space under the split-level house in Nassau County and stayed there as the house changed hands several times over the years. It was heavy and no one wanted to bother with it until a buyer came along in 1999 and demanded that it be removed.
The owner at the time and his real estate agent pulled it out and pried open the sealed lid. They saw a hand and a shoe and knew immediately it was a human corpse. Police took over and determined the woman, dressed in a sweater, skirt, long socks and leopard print coat, was killed by a massive blow to the head.
From El Salvador
It didn’t take long to identify the dead woman. She was Reyna Angelica Marroquin, an immigrant from El Salvador. Known as Angel, the woman had entered the United States through the Port of Miami in 1966. She had been divorced in El Salvador and had no family in the United States. She headed for New York to start a new life.
Her first job was as a nanny, but she quit after a few months and took a job in June 1967 making flowers at a Manhattan factory owned by Howard Elkins. Investigators quickly determined that Elkins was on the list of former owners of the Long Island house where the body was discovered.
Moved to Florida
The businessman sold the plastics company and his Long Island home and moved with his wife to Florida in 1972. Police paid a visit to Elkins, told him about the body found in a barrel at his former home and questioned him about the woman’s death.
A Nassau County homicide detective said he asked Elkins questions he already knew the answers to, and Elkins lied to him. He admitted having a relationship with Marroquin but denied any knowledge of her disappearance. After taking a telephone call from his wife, Elkins got nervous and asked the officers to leave. He refused to give them a DNA sample.
The next day Elkins killed himself. He was found in a Ford Explorer in a friend’s garage with a gunshot wound to his head and a shotgun he had just bought the same day between his legs.
DNA proved that Elkins was the father of the unborn child found with its mother in a metal barrel. Police say there is no doubt that Elkins killed Reyna Angelica Marroquin in 1969 after she told his wife about the affair she had with her husband.