Shortly after Daphne Abdela was born, her parents both tragically died and she was placed up for adoption. She was soon adopted by an extremely wealthy couple: Angelo, a food company executive, and Catherine, a French-born model. The young family lived in a lavish apartment adjacent to Central Park in New York City. They went on extravagant vacations and Daphne was enrolled in the most affluent school. She had everything she could have possibly wanted in life. Nevertheless, it wasn’t enough.
“She was always looking for attention, and she didn’t get along with her parents,” recollected one of her friends. “I guess she didn’t feel loved. Her parents did love her, but she messed up.” A number of other friends said that as soon as Daphne became a teenager, she wouldn’t be seen without a bottle of liquor in her hand. “She’ll start arguing with someone just walking down the street, then expect her friends to back her up,” said another friend named Larry.1
For several years, Daphne had gone off the rails. She was a rebellious teenager that spent most her time in a drunken stupor. Despite the fact they gave her everything she desired, Daphne developed a hatred of her parents. In fact, her parents were terrified of her.
At the age of 15, Daphne started dating 15-year-old altar boy, Christopher Vasquez. It was an odd pairing. Christopher was religious, quiet and neatly dressed. His neighbours recollected that he often tried to find homes for stray dogs and he was very punctual when it came to school. However, after pairing up with Daphne, Christopher too followed suit in the downward spiral. Soon, the couple took to hanging out in Central Park at night, drunk. At the time, Central Park had been the scene of numerous random fights and attacks. Ironically, Daphne spoke with a newspaper after an attack on a woman and said: “This makes me think not to trust a single person.”2
“I’m going to kill someone tonight,” Daphne bragged to her friends on the 22nd of May, 1997. That evening, she and Cristopher made their way to their usual haunt, Central Park. 44-year-old real estate agent, Michael McMorrow, was also in the park that evening; he could be spotted there most evenings just sitting on a bench and enjoying the beauty of Central Park and sometimes sharing a beer with new friends he would meet at the scenic destination. The couple convinced Michael to go to the lake with them and they drank beer and malt liquor.
Once there, they produced knives and started stabbing and slashing the unsuspecting man. “Slice him from ear to ear,” Daphne told Christopher, to which he complied, almost severing his head. The couple then almost partially severed his hands and nose before disemboweling him and throwing him in the lake that he often admired. “He’s a fatty, he’ll sink,” quipped Daphne. Michael had been stabbed around thirty times in the face, neck, chest and stomach. A number of the wounds had been inflicted after his death and his intestines had spilled out.
Clearly wanting to revel in her crime, Daphne called the police to tell them there was a body in the lake in Central Park. Police were quickly able to trace this call back to Daphne’s elegant apartment in the Majestic. Both Daphne and Christopher were arrested and charged with second-degree murder and robbery. In fact, before their arrest, Daphne’s parents had reported her missing and when police arrived at the apartment, they discovered Daphne and Christopher in the laundry room just off the lobby where they were washing blood off themselves. The teenagers told police that they had been hurt in-line skating.3
When they were interrogated, Daphne immediately placed all of the blame on Christopher, saying he had killed Michael out of jealousy before saying that she killed him while on an LSD trip. She claimed that she was afraid of Christopher and that he flipped out when Michael put his arm around her. However, she did admit that she had advised Christopher to disembowel Michael so that his body would sink.4 Christopher refuted this and said that it was Daphne who committed the murder.
Both Daphne and Christopher were found guilty of manslaughter and were sentenced to the maximum three and a half years to ten years in prison. Daphne had pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal while Christopher went to trial. The jury had acquitted Christopher of second-degree murder. Michael’s family lambasted the jury as “gutless” for the verdict.
When Daphne pleaded guilty, she admitted that she had “struck” Michael and had intended to “cause serious physical harm.”5 However, she said that she had never intended on Michael being murdered. She claimed that she wasn’t sure what had sparked the fight between Christopher and Michael but said that she had assisted by striking Michael and kicking his feet from out underneath him, causing him to fall over. Following the partial confession, Michael’s family said that it gave them some semblance of closure.6
After the sentences was handed down, Daphne apologised and said she wished she could “go back to the past” and resurrect Michael. She pleaded with the court to accept her responsibility, stating: “I was wrong for being in the park at night. I was wrong for drinking underage, and I was wrong for the admitted actions I took. As much as I wish I could go back into the past, I am dealing with the circumstances as best as I can.”7
Both Daphne and Christopher were paroled in January of 2004.
- New York Daily News, 24 May, 1997 – “1 Wild, 1 Quiet, 1 Mystery”
- The Record, 6 June, 1996 – “Savage Attack in Manhattan Haven”
- New York Daily News, 24 May, 1997 – “Central Park Slash Frenzy”
- New York Daily News, 4 October, 1997 – “Gory Story of Park Slay”
- New York Daily News, 5 December, 1998 – “Boy, 16, Guilty in Park Slaying”
- New York Daily News, 12 March, 1998 – “A Guilty Plea in 1997 Slay”
- New York Daily News, 3 April, 1998 – “I’m Sorry for Park Slaying, Teen Says”