Reyna Angélica Marroquin was a 27-year-old woman killed in January 1969, due to a love triangle in which she was involved.
Her remains were undiscovered in a sealed 55-gallon chemical barrel in the crawlspace of her killer's former Long Island home through several changes in home ownership, until being found on September 2, 1999. The remains were unidentified until a resident alien number was uncovered and identified from personal effects found at the bottom of the barrel.
On September 2, 1999, in Jericho, New York, Ronald Cohen had been moving his personal effects out of the midcentury modern split-level home he had just sold, and noticed that not all of his trash had been picked up. Among these items was a large, grimy, rusty black 55-gallon drum with faded chemical labels and an imposing weight of 350 pounds. A note affixed to the barrel stated that it was too heavy to move and would need special pick-up arranged due to its weight and chemical markings. Cohen, by now frustrated, pried open the barrel and was overcome by a horrific stench. Inside were a withered, leathery hand and a 1960s-style ladies' high-heeled shoe, surrounded by heaping amounts of granular material, and all coated in a viscous greenish chemical liquid. Cohen called 9-1-1, and the barrel was transported to the Nassau County Coroner's Office for forensic examination.
Upon forensic examination, Nassau County Coroner Gerard Catanese determined that the body was that of a Latina in her mid/late twenties, between 145 and 152 cm (4'9" and 5'0") in height, with a petite build and unusual dental work characteristic of South America. Other items inside the barrel included roughly 250 pounds of polystyrene pellets, a pocketbook with makeup kit, an address book, a wallet with a business card for a by then long since retired physician in Hoboken, NJ, a plastic flower stem with leaves, and a quantity of green dye and decomposition fluids.
The remains were thoroughly mummified and desiccated, with no organs or body fluids left to speak of, and were dressed in 1960s-style clothing and jewelry, including a Roman Catholic scapular, two rings (one inscribed "M.H.R."), and a locket inscribed "To Patrice Love Uncle Phil" . Catanese was shocked to find that the unidentified victim was pregnant, with a full-term baby boy.
The barrel was determined to have been manufactured in 1965 by Rheem Container in Linden, New Jersey, and shipped to the General Aniline & Film Co. dye plant in the same city, for use to transport a halogen green dye made for the plastics industry and discontinued by General Aniline's Collway Pigments Division in 1971, and to have been sold to a defunct synthetic floral and greenery manufacturer based in Manhattan, called Melrose Plastics. Upon further investigation, Melrose Plastics was part-owned by the same man who owned the home where the barrel was found back in the 1960s- Howard B. Elkins.
Elkins owned the Jericho home from when it was first constructed in 1957, to 1972, and naturally became the prime suspect. Several tips came in about Elkins having an affair with a much younger Latina whom he employed in his plastics factory, as well as about the source of the barrels and what their original contents were used for, and Nassau County Police homicide detectives determined that Elkins was now retired and living in Boca Raton, Florida. Detectives flew to Boca Raton to interview Elkins, who was uncooperative, dishonest and ultimately asked the detectives to leave when his telephone rang. Before leaving, detectives informed Elkins that they were going to obtain a warrant, match his DNA to the DNA of the fetus inside the unidentified victim, and arrest him for murder and bring him back to Nassau County.
Marroquin was an immigrant from El Salvador who sought a new life after leaving her unfaithful husband. She settled in New York, where she was employed at a plastic flower making company.
Howard Elkins, the owner of the company, had an affair with Marroquin. She became pregnant and it is believed she was killed due to her confession to his wife.
Elkins placed her body in the barrel with likely intent to dump it into the ocean where it may never have been recovered. He miscalculated the weight of the barrel, which was too heavy to move from his basement. This led him to inch the barrel into a corner in the crawl space. He had since moved when the remains were discovered.
When confronted by police at his Florida residence, Elkins shot himself. DNA testing concluded the unborn son Reyna carried was more than likely his child.