The location where Paola Illera's body was found
Crime Scene Location in East Harlem, New York
This is the location where serial killer Arohn Kee dumped the body of Paola Illera.
It is situated on Bobby Wagner Walk in East Harlem, New York.
On the afternoon of January 24th, 1991, the 13-year-old left her school and walked back to her apartment building at 420 East 111th Street.
Illera was a Colombian immigrant who had moved to New York City with her mother and two siblings in June 1990. At the time, they were staying with her uncle on the 30th floor. Her father, Cesar, was still in Colombia, working as a taxi driver and trying to save up enough money to join them.
At around 4.45 p.m., Illera reached the entrance of the building and called her apartment's intercom. Her mother, Olga, answered the call and buzzed her into the lobby.
Although she entered the elevator, she never made it to the 30th floor.
Ten minutes later, when she still hadn't shown up, her brother and two uncles went looking for her. However, when they went down to the lobby, it was completely empty.
Her body was found under the Wards Island Bridge
Nearly three hours later, a person walking their dog happened across Illera's remains at this section of the promenade under the Wards Island Bridge—a site that is roughly half a mile south of her apartment building.
The autopsy revealed that she had been raped, strangled, and stabbed three times in the chest. A male pubic hair was also collected from the body.
During the investigation, the police learned that a teenager named Arohn Warford had entered the elevator at the same time as Illera. However, he claimed that he got off on the 19th floor and that the young girl had continued upward.
For the next few years, the case went cold. Although you might expect the violent killing of a 13-year-old to garner massive media attention, that wasn't the case. Instead, it seems as though Illera's murder was quickly forgotten about. In comparison to news coverage of other crimes at the time, it was merely a blip on the media's radar.
East Harlem Rapist
As the decade progressed, it became clear to the authorities that a sexual predator was targeting girls in the East Harlem area.
Between 1994 and 1998, two murders and four rapes occurred in the neighborhood. The victims were either light-skinned or Hispanic, between the ages of 13 and 19.
In February 1999, the police held a press conference and asked for the public's help in identifying clothing that was found at one of the crime scenes. They also began to distribute a sketch of the attacker, whom the media had dubbed the East Harlem Rapist.
Arohn Kee becomes a suspect
Shortly afterwards, a tipster contacted the authorities and told them about a man named "Ace".
After looking into "Ace's" background, investigators discovered that his real name was Arohn Kee and that he had lived in Illera's apartment building at the time of her abduction. He also personally knew one of the other victims.
It was soon determined that Arohn's father's surname was Warford. This was significant, as Arohn Warford was the name of the teenager who had last seen Illera alive.
When Kee caught wind that the police were honing in on him as a suspect, he immediately fled to Miami. However, the authorities tracked him down and extradited him back to New York.
Kee is found guilty of Paola Illera's murder
Kee's DNA proved to be a match with the pubic hair that was found on Illera's body. It also connected him to two other murders and three rapes.
Although he attempted to spin a far-fetched conspiracy theory about how he had been framed, the jury didn't fall for it.
On December 16th, 2000, he was found guilty on all charges. Kee started shouting expletives at the court when the verdict was announced. However, at his sentencing, he broke down and cried that he was "sorry." He also refused to look at the victims' families.
During her impact statement, Illera's mother, Olga, said the following:
"I hope that you experience what it is like to not be able to sleep, to eat, to walk, to breathe, to not have a moment of peace, thinking of my daughter's suffering at the time of her death. I will never learn to live without my daughter, who I brought to this country in search of the American dream."
On January 26th, 2001, Arohn Kee was sentenced to three consecutive terms of life imprisonment. He is currently incarcerated at the Attica Correctional Facility in Wyoming County, New York.
Further information is available in the "Photos" section below.
Paola Illera crime scene location
Below, you will find the address and the GPS coordinates for this location.
Bobby Wagner Walk, East Harlem, New York, NY 10029, USA
To view directions on how to get there, you can use the Google Maps shortcut below:
The latitude and longitude coordinates for the site are:
The ramp for Ward's Island Bridge is situated close to the intersection of East 102nd Street and FDR Drive.
Details about the general area
East Harlem is a neighborhood in Upper Manhattan.
Photos of the site and other related images.
This Google Street View image of the crime scene was taken in July 2021.
At around 7.30 p.m. on January 24th, 1991, a dog walker discovered Paola Illera's body beside the pedestrian ramp. At the time, it was lying among syringes and other drug paraphernalia.
This area is a part of the Bobby Wagner Walk (East River Walk) that runs alongside the Harlem River. The ramp leads up to the Wards Island Bridge, which connects East Harlem with Wards Island.
Paola Illera lived at 420 East 111th Street
Illera lived on the 30th floor of 420 East 111th Street.
Kee lived with relatives on the 19th floor. However, his apartment was empty at the time.
When Illera stepped into the elevator with him, Kee saw the chance encounter as an opportunity. At that point, he either forced her back to his place or lured her there using a ruse.
In later cases, he held some of his victims at knifepoint and directed them where to go. Therefore, it is possible that he did the same thing with Illera.
Coordinates: 40.791986, -73.936597
Arohn Kee dumped Illera's body 2,000 feet away from her apartment
This aerial image highlights the distance between the apartment building and the site where the body was discovered.
It takes roughly 7–10 minutes to walk between these two locations.
The absence of blood at the crime scene indicated that she wasn't murdered there.
This raises questions about how Kee managed to move Illera so far without being seen. Locals have said that the pedestrian walkways between these two places are empty at night.
At the time of the murder, it was dark outside. Furthermore, the crime rate was much higher in the early 1990s. As a result, most people would have been actively avoiding these places. The presence of syringes at the crime scene backs this up, as habitual drug users will typically drift toward secluded areas.
Despite this, it was still incredibly risky, especially seeing as Illera's family began searching for her at around 5 p.m. The logistics of carrying a dead body across half a mile in a city without being seen would have also been difficult.
In September 1997, Kee used a shopping cart to transport one of his victims to a rooftop. Therefore, it is plausible that he used a similar method to move Illera's remains.
On September 10th, 1997, Kee transported Johalis Castro to the top of this building at 218 East 104th Street and then set her on fire.
The autopsy revealed that the 19-year-old was still alive when he poured gasoline on her body and lit the match.
The apartment building in question is just 0.4 miles northwest of where he dumped Illera's remains.
Castro reportedly knew Kee and had called him shortly before the incident.
The killing stumped investigators. Although she had an abusive ex-boyfriend, the police were certain that he had nothing to do with it. Furthermore, they couldn't think of a reason why Castro would have been in such a building in the first place.
During the early 1990s, 218 East 104th Street had a bad reputation for drugs. However, Castro did not take drugs. Nor were there any illegal substances found in her system.
At the time of her death, she had an infant daughter named Jovana and was studying computer science.
Detectives stated that "she was a good kid" who had no known ties to the building.
Coordinates: 40.789521, -73.944781
On June 2nd, 1998, the body of Rasheeda Washington was discovered in a stairwell at 1345 Fifth Avenue, in a development known as the Taft Houses.
The 18-year-old fashion student had been raped and then strangled to death.
The location is one mile away from the ramp where Illera was found.
Coordinates: 40.798596, -73.947626
This aerial map highlights the apartment building and the locations where Kee's murder victims were found.
Google Maps indicates that he operated in a small 0.25-square-mile radius in East Harlem.
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