Highway workers discovered a red suitcase near a quiet, wooded neighborhood in Connecticut.
They were on a routine drive Tuesday morning, authorities said, when they spotted the bag just feet from the shoulder of a paved, two-lane road that runs through Greenwich, Conn., a town of 60,000 people about 30 miles from New York City.
When they opened it, they found a woman’s dead body, bound and zipped inside, authorities said.
Officials with the Greenwich Police Department said Thursday the woman has been identified as 24-year-old Valerie Reyes. Reyes, from New Rochelle, N.Y., had been missing since the morning of Jan. 29, authorities said, though the circumstances surrounding her disappearance and death are still unclear.
Greenwich police Capt. Robert Berry said in a statement that the cause of death has not yet been confirmed but that authorities are still investigating the incident.
“The Greenwich Police Department is dedicated to identifying those responsible for the death of Valerie and ensuring justice for her and her family” the police captain said. He noted that the victim’s family is “obviously devastated by the loss of Valerie and our heartfelt condolences go out to them.”
The Hartford Courant reported that when Reyes did not make it to work Jan. 30, she was reported as a missing person to the New Rochelle Police Department. Soon, her picture was being shared across multiple agencies.
For days, family members and friends posted pleas on social media for her safe return.
A social media user who said that he was Reyes’s boyfriend posted a message that same day on Twitter, writing that “My girlfriend Valerie is now officially reported as a missing person nationwide by the authorities. Please contact me if there is ANY kind of information.”
Another wrote that “my friend has been #missing since Monday. Last seen Tuesday at the #NewRochelle train station & supposedly was around #Midtown that same day. Please guys keep sharing this. We need to know she’s OK — It’s a crazy world & we are all worried.”
Berry, the police captain, said earlier at a news conference that Reyes was found Tuesday clothed, with her hands and feet bound, inside the suitcase, which he described as full-size — larger than what could be used as an airplane carry-on.
Although investigators have determined that Reyes was not killed in the location where her body was discovered, the police captain said they still don’t know where the killing took place.
Greenwich residents spoke with the local newspaper, the Greenwich Time, about a growing uneasiness over news of the killing. The area is known for being safe and quiet, they said, and it was ranked the 20th wealthiest Zip code in the country by Bloomberg News.
“My gut is it probably happened somewhere else, but these days, you never know,” Scott Chiappetta, who works at a preschool in the neighborhood, told the Greenwich Time. “It’s very quiet. Nothing ever really happens around here, other than [traffic] from the firehouse. It feels safe.”
Another area resident connected the killing to the pervasive, societal issue of violence against women.
“It’s a national problem and it always has been,” the woman, who was not named, said. “It’s sickening.”
Chanya Champagne, who works at a local breakfast restaurant, told ABC News she was “shocked” that a crime like this — with details she had only encountered before in TV shows and movies — had happened so close to home.
“I just hope they get their information and figure it out,” Champagne said. “It’s just crazy knowing there’s a murderer on the loose.”
But authorities cautioned there was no known reason to believe those in the neighborhood were at risk. Police spokesman Lt. John Slusarz told the local newspaper it was an “isolated incident.”
Law enforcement has encouraged anyone with information about the case to contact the Greenwich Police Tip Line at 203-622-3333, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.