Dora Delvalle Almontaser was only 19 years old when she was sexually assaulted and then strangled to death with a telephone cord while house-sitting for her uncle in the Bronx back in December 2000. Now, more than 22 years later, the case has been closed with a plea deal.
During the original investigation, police retrieved fluids and a lone fingerprint from the nude victim and the crime scene, respectively. At the time, no matches for either could be found, but police created a “John Doe” profile based on the presumed killer’s DNA.
At the time of her death, Almontaser was living with her husband; she had been watching her uncle’s apartment while he recovered in the hospital. The deceased woman was remembered as ambitious by her family, according to The New York Times.
Five years later, 25-year-old Angel Serbay, a Yonkers mother, was found raped, beaten, and strangled. Her body had been wrapped in a blanket and dumped on the side of the Sprain Brook Parkway, a state road, in Westchester County. Again, fluid was recovered from the victim. The DNA evidence from Serbay matched the evidence found in Almontaser’s body. Still no matches came up for a named suspect.
“Angel was a lost soul,” her mother, Susan Serbay, told The Journal News in 2006. ” That’s the best way to describe her. She was a very good person. She was just lost, searching for something. We miss her. We miss what could have been for her.”
Both cases would go cold in their own time.
In November 2017, Christopher Gonzalez, 41, was arrested after a Bronx detective re-opened Almontaser’s case and re-ran the fingerprint, according to Manhattan-based CW flagship station WPIX. This time, the fingerprint was a match for a married man and Toys”R”Us employee who had been arrested just eight months before by the Collier County Sheriff’s Office for driving without a license.
Gonzalez reportedly paid $500 bond and was quickly back home in Naples, Florida after his traffic violation; but detectives with the New York State Police and the NYPD were soon knocking on his door.
He was first arrested and charged with Almontaser’s murder by New York City authorities while the second murder investigation continued. In May 2019, Gonzalez was indicted in Westchester County for Serbay’s murder – on two counts of murder in the first degree, three counts of murder in the second degree, and one count each of rape in the first degree, and criminal sexual act in the first degree.
While in the Empire State, Gonzalez lived mere blocks away from each of the women he eventually raped and killed, WPIX reported, citing an anonymous “law enforcement source.”
He pleaded not guilty to the charges and maintained his innocence for years. Days before Christmas, the defendant had a change of heart.
On Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, Gonzalez admitted to committing both brutal crimes. In exchange for his plea on two murder charges, he received two concurrent sentences of 20 years to life in prison, according to a courtroom report by The New York Daily News.
“Oh, it was a miracle!” Dora DelValle, Almontaser’s mother said, in comments reported by the paper. “Finally, he decided to plead guilty! … I pray day and night, and finally God heard my prayers.”
“We’ve been waiting 22 years for this to be over and finally, hopefully, it’s going to be closed,” Almontaser’s sister Brisaid Santos, who was just a teenager at the time of the slaying told the Daily News. “It’s not easy. It’s hard. It’s horrible. He’s a killer. That’s what he is.”
[image via Collier County Sheriff’s Office]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]