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Crime News Cold Cases

Florida Man Sentenced For Strangulation Murders Of Two New York Women In 2000s

In 2017, Christopher Gonzalez was linked to the 2000 murder of Dora DelValle-Almontaser, who was raped and strangled while housesitting at her uncle's Bronx apartment. A year and a half later, DNA would also connect the suspect to the 2005 murder of Angel Serbay.

By Jax Miller
How To Use DNA To Crack A Case

A Florida man will spend the next 20 years to life behind bars for the separate murders of two New York women.

Christopher Gonzalez, 41, admitted guilt in the 2000 murder of Dora DelValle-Almontaser, 19, and will also plead guilty to the 2005 murder of Angel Serbay, 25, as part of a recent plea deal, according to the New York Daily News. DNA connected Gonzalez to the crime scenes of the women, both of whom were raped and strangled.

On Wednesday, Gonzalez was transported into the Bronx courtroom in a wheelchair, appearing before Bronx Supreme Court Justice Martin Marcus. Upon submitting his plea, the judge sentenced Gonzalez to two concurrent sentences of 20 years to life for the murders, though rape charges were taken off the table as part of the deal.

“Oh, it was a miracle,” said Almontaser’s mother, Dora DelValle. “Finally, he decided to plead guilty! I pray day and night, and finally, God heard my prayers.”

RELATED: Florida Man Gets Life For Murdering Roommate Over Stolen PlayStation

On Dec. 2, 2000, at around 7:35 p.m., relatives found Dora DelValle-Almontaser at her uncle’s second-floor apartment in the Bronx, according to a 2000 article by the New York Times. The Daily News reported she was found naked in bed.

Almontaser lived with her husband nearby but had been housesitting while her uncle was away at the hospital, per the New York Times. 

The assailant sexually assaulted Almontaser and strangled her with a telephone cord, the Bronx County District Attorney Darcel D. Clark stated in 2017. 

Christopher Gonzalez

“She wanted to do something with her life,” her brother, Juan DelValle, told the New York Times, adding Almontaser had aspirations of earning her GED and had recently applied for a job at Toys ‘R’ Us.

The suspected killer had left a fingerprint on the phone attached to the cord used to strangle the victim, per the Daily News.

Five years later, on Sept. 3, 2005, a passing motorist found Angel Serbay's body on the shoulder of Sprain Brook Parkway in Greenburgh, about 15 miles north of the Bronx in Westchester County, according to New York’s Journal News. The body was wrapped in an animal-print sheet, and investigators determined that she'd been raped and strangled to death the previous night or in the early morning hours.

The victim also sustained an injury to the back of her head, according to the outlet.

Serbay’s mother, Susan Serbay, told The Journal News in 2006 that her daughter — who was from nearby Yonkers, New York — was a “lost soul” but a “very good person."

“She was just lost, searching for something,” said Susan Serbay. "We miss her. We miss what could have been for her.”

Serbay left behind a son.

Both homicides were investigated separately from one another and eventually grew cold until 2017, when authorities in the Bronx took a fresh look at Almontaser’s case, according to the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office. “A fingerprint and significant DNA evidence” from the 2000 crime scene would link Christopher Gonzalez of Naples, Florida.

Gonzalez’s fingerprints were already on file following an April 2017 arrest in Florida for a traffic violation, helping authorities to make the connection, according to New York’s WPIX.

Gonzalez was arrested in November 2017 at his residence in Naples, where he lived with his wife and worked at a local Toys ‘R’ Us store, according to the New York Daily News. He was extradited to New York one month later to face charges for Almontaser’s murder.

Following the arrest, Gonzalez was soon suspected of Serbay’s murder, according to The Journal News, though it would take a year and a half for authorities to charge him.

In May 2019, the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office announced DNA connected Gonzalez to Serbay’s crime scene, and subsequently charged him with first-degree murder and rape.

After Wednesday’s sentencing, retired Bronx homicide squad Detective Malcolm Reiman told reporters Gonzalez lived just blocks away from each of the victims when they were killed, according to the New York Daily News.

“It’s a tremendous relief,” said Reiman. “It’s very satisfying. Absolutely. I was at the crime scene at the time. Me and my partner, Terry McGee, got the case originally, and a lot of people worked on this case so hard over the years. So much effort went into it.”

Almontaser’s sister, Brisaid Santos, also spoke after the sentencing, according to the Daily News.

“We’ve been waiting 22 years for this to be over, and finally, hopefully, it’s going to be closed,” said Santos. “It’s not easy. It’s hard. It’s horrible. He’s a killer. That’s what he is.”

Gonzalez will not be allowed to appeal the conviction, per the recent plea deal.

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