A woman found dead in a New York skyscraper where a cleaner had vanished days earlier was bound and gagged and had a gold crucifix taped to her mouth, police said.
Police searching for the missing Dominican-born cleaner at a building near the World Trade Centre site found the body on Saturday after discovering blood leaking from a ventilation shaft, police spokesman Paul Browne said.
The body has not been identified, but police believe it is that of Eridania Rodriguez, who had not been seen since her shift on Tuesday at the 26-storey Manhattan tower.
Ms Rodriguez' street clothes and other belongings were found in her locker and video surveillance did not show her leaving the building.
An autopsy yesterday determined the dead woman, found in a 12th-floor air-conditioning duct, was asphyxiated by tape applied to her head and face, medical examiner's office spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said.
The woman's hands were tied behind her back and her feet and mouth were bound, Mr Browne said. The crucifix was dangling by the woman's mouth, but it was unclear whether the necklace had been caught underneath the tape.
"We haven't determined whether the crucifix ended up there incidentally or intentionally," he said.
The woman was wearing a work shirt and sweatpants and had received a head wound, Mr Browne said. Her shoes were found elsewhere in the air-conditioning duct, he said.
Ms Rodriguez, 46, was the sister of professional bodybuilder Victor Martinez. She lived in upper Manhattan and was married with several children.
She made her last appearance on security videotape at the skyscraper about 7pm on Tuesday. Her cleaning cart was found on the eighth floor.
The building, at 2 Rector St is a few blocks from the World Trade Centre site. Like many others near ground zero, it was upgraded with enhanced security after the September 11 2001, terrorist attacks. Cameras cover every exit and guards staff the lobby 24 hours a day.
Among the building's tenants are Daniel Libeskind, the architect who created the master plan to redevelop the 16-acre trade centre site.
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