Last week, the four-bedroom house with the blue siding at 79 Grandview Ave. in Pleasantville sat like it has for the last five years. There was no activity on the property located on the quiet residential street a short distance from Washington Avenue.
A passerby can peer through the front door to view a cluttered mess in the downstairs hallway, apparently possessions belonging to its owner.
On Oct. 30, 2014, the house’s owner and lone resident, 76-year-old Linda Misek-Falkoff, was found dead inside the premises after a mail carrier spotted her mail piling up in the box outside for several days.
The Westchester County Medical Examiner’s office concluded that Misek-Falkoff’s death was a homicide by stabbing following an autopsy. Police, at the time, had said the front door was unlocked but there were no signs of forced entry.
Despite collecting “strong evidence” at the scene, five years later police investigators are still trying to piece together all the information and looking for additional clues to move forward.
“The most challenging thing is there were no witnesses to the crime,” said Capt. Mark Busche of the Westchester County police’s Detective Division, who supervises open homicide and cold cases. “So this poor woman was found about five days after she succumbed to her injuries, so there was the decomposition of the body, and the nature of that environment poses some forensic challenges to us.”
Busche said that while the case is dormant, the scene was processed forensically so there is evidence and leads. But there have been no new tips that have come in from the public.
That doesn’t discourage Busche from eventually finding the suspect or suspects. Police investigators recently received a tip on a murder that occurred 40 years ago, helping authorities to take a fresh look at the cold case.
“We’re confident that somebody knows something,” he said. “We’d like to hear from them so we can follow up. But like any investigation, it has led us down several different paths that we looked down and there’s always some people of interest that we investigate. It is an ongoing investigation.”
Following the discovery of her body, it was noted that Misek-Falkoff, who had been widowed for about four years at the time of her death, had previously worked for IBM and was an attorney. She had collected an inordinate number of possessions and the house’s interior was filled with boxes, furniture and debris.
Busche declined to provide more detail into what additional information police are looking for that might help them solve the crime but assured the public that it was an active case. He said it is not known whether the murderer had known Misek-Falkoff.
Years ago, the longer a case went unsolved the less of a chance there might be an arrest, Busche said. But that is no longer the case with evolving technology. As new scientific tools are developed to help investigators, the chances of solving older cases are greater than in the past, he said.
County police spokesman Kieran O’Leary said no matter how much time elapses, an unsolved homicide is never closed.
“These cases are never just put on a shelf and not looked at,” he said. “It’s never a closed case. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed. There’s always areas of investigation and there are always things that can pay off.”
“Her death has not been forgotten regardless of her tragic circumstances and that’s the way we approach all of our cases at the county police,” Busche added. “Cold cases, like I said, we’re working on something that’s 40 years old. That life is just as important as anybody’s now.”
In August, Pleasantville officials listed the quarter-acre property as one of four abandoned parcels in the village. They village is considering a local property maintenance law to make sure that properties such as 79 Grandview Ave. are not a blight on the community, said Village Administrator Eric Morrissey. The public hearing on the law, which would allow the village to do basic maintenance, is scheduled for Nov. 14, he said.
Police ask anyone with information regarding the Misek-Falkoff homicide to contact Westchester County police at its main number at 914-864-7701, by phone or by text at 800-898-TIPS (8477) or by e-mail at TIPS@WCCOPS.COM. All information will be kept confidential.