A 44-year-old handyman has been arrested for allegedly murdering a Queens mother in her own home as her teenage son sat upstairs last week, "ruthlessly and brutally" stabbing her more than 55 times before putting her body in her son's hockey bag and leaving the duffel on the side of a road, police executives said Thursday.
David Bonola, who is also from Queens, allegedly had an intimate affair with the woman, 51-year-old Orsolya Gaal, who also employed him for odd jobs around her Forest Hills home for a few years. He didn't live far away from her Juno Street home and allegedly went there around 12:40 a.m. Saturday, just after she got home.
He was either let in voluntarily or used a key that he knew was hidden in the home's barbecue, said NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig.
According to the NYPD, Bonola and Gaal got into a "heated argument" in her basement and he allegedly brandished a knife, stabbing her so many times and with such violence that he ended up with blood all over his clothes and wounds to his hands as Gaal tried to fight back. The knife was later recovered at the scene.
It was similar to other ones in her home, police said, but additional forensic analysis is pending. Bonola and Gaal had been on-again-off-again for about two years, police said, and last reunited romantically in early April. At the time of her death, they were considered "off," police clarified.
According to investigators, once Gaal was dead, Bonola allegedly took her teenage son's hockey bag, put her body inside and headed out to dump it. Video showed him rolling her body down sidewalks, leaving a trail of blood through her neighborhood.
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The bag was recovered around 7:50 a.m. Saturday, about seven hours after investigators believe Gaal was murdered. They believe Bonola fled the dumpsite via Forest Park, which is where they found a jacket he allegedly wore during the crime.
Detectives also developed leads that led them to bloody bandages, boots and a T-shirt they believe Bonola was wearing at the time of Gaal's killing. They say he was treated at Bellevue Hospital over the weekend for wounds to both hands, but didn't describe the injuries other than to suggest they were the result of Gaal's desperate effort to save her life.
Bonola voluntarily returned to the precinct as investigators were searching for evidence, according to Essig. That's when he made incriminating statements and allegedly admitted his guilt during questioning, according to two senior police officials with direct knowledge of the conversation. Bonola told police that he and Gaal argued over their relationship.
He has at least one prior arrest dating back to 2013, but police said it had no bearing on the Gaal investigation.
Bonola didn't answer any reporter questions as he was walked out of the NYPD precinct house, but did shout vulgarities at a nearby heckler as police led him out in handcuffs into a waiting car. He faces a number of charges, including second-degree murder, first-degree evidence tampering and fourth-degree weapon possession in relation to Gaal's slaying.
Officials say they're awaiting more evidence processing and video canvassing but thanked the public and the Queens district attorney for a quick arrest. NYPD Chief Essig assured area residents there are no outstanding suspects.
Queens Mom Killing Terrifies Forest Hills
The case has mystified investigators and those who knew Gaal for nearly a week.
Gaal was last seen alive nearly a week ago at the Forest Hills Station House, a gathering spot popular with locals after taking in a show at Lincoln Center, officials said Thursday. The bar manager, Gabriel Veras, last recalled seeing the victim a bit after midnight at the gastropub on Saturday.
Veras said Gaal always wore a smile, dined alone and was kind to employees — and while she recalled seeing her for about 45 minutes Friday night into early Saturday, the manager didn't remember that she seemed to be in any kind of danger or disturbed.
"She was here on Friday, right in the center of the bar. Had a Moscow mule, had a bite to eat. Spoke to a few of my staff members that know her, joking around in conversation," Veras said. "She was a very, very sweet regular. She left alone and we were in shock the next day. Shock."
"She was composed, collected, in the middle of the bar, just keeping to herself and talking to staff," Veras added. "Nothing unusual. She didn’t seem frightened or scared or panicked. Just enjoying her one drink before going home."
Details of the attack are gruesome, as law enforcement sources said Gaal was stabbed some 58 times in the neck, torso, and left arm. The sources also said that she had wounds to her hands that were likely from her attempts to fight off the attacker.
Chilling surveillance video showed a person who police believed may have killed her, according to sources. That person, later identified as Bonola, was seen on home security camera footage wheeling a hockey duffel bag down 75th Avenue, with Gaal's body believed to be inside.
Police made the disturbing discovery of her body Saturday morning after a 911 caller alerted officials to the roadside crime scene. The NYPD said Gaal's body was found near Jackie Robinson parkway and Metropolitan Avenue shortly before 8:30 a.m., about a half-mile from her home, after a jogger spotted the blood-soaked duffel bag near a busy walking trail.
Gaal's 13-year-old son who lives at the home was questioned by police and later released, sources said. Investigators believe that Gaal was attacked in her basement, while the teenage son was asleep on the top floor of the home.
Police said her husband and another son were out of town, visiting colleges on the West Coast, when her body was discovered. Police sources said that the husband received a threatening text from his wife's phone around 5 a.m. Saturday, which Bonola later admitted to sending in an effort to take suspicion away from himself.
Sources told NBC New York that at around 5 a.m. Saturday, the killer is believed to have sent Gaal's husband a threatening text message from her phone.
The medical examiner's office confirmed Gaal's death was classified a homicide due to "sharp force injuries of the neck."
Posters offering $3,500 reward for any information leading to an arrest were put up for blocks throughout the neighborhood.
A growing tribute with flowers continued to grow in the front yard of Gaal's home, as police were still inside looking for clues. There were tributes pouring in on social media as well, with people noting Gaal's kindness.
No possible motive has been shared, but authorities suspect it was domestic.
Information on a possible attorney for Bonola wasn't immediately available.