Volume 75, Number 10 | July 27 - Aug. 2, 2005

A drifter is arrested in murder of pastor on Henry St.

By Brendan Keane

Two days after residents of a Chinatown building made the grisly discovery of a decomposing corpse of an elderly man in his apartment, José Bustos Mangana, 28, has confessed to the brutal murder, according to police.

Detectives found and arrested Mangana on July 18, two days after the drifter allegedly beat, strangled and stabbed Juan Crespo, 75, after what the younger man described as his attempts to thwart an unwanted sexual advance.

A spokesperson for the city’s medical examiner’s office said that an autopsy has revealed that Crespo suffered multiple fractured ribs from being punched and kicked. The cause of death was reported as blunt trauma, strangulation and a stab wound to the torso.

The Manhattan district attorney has charged Mangana with murder in the second degree and he is being held without bail, pending a grand jury appearance on Aug. 29.

According to police, Mangana is an illegal alien who left his native Mexico three of fours years ago for Florida, where he has an arrest record for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

Five months ago Mangana — who has no known profession — arrived in New York and began living on Rutgers St. in Manhattan with a married acquaintance whose wife recently insisted Mangana leave the apartment. According to several witnesses in Chinatown and the Lower East Side, Mangana panhandled on the street to support himself and was often intoxicated.

Juan Crespo met Magana in this period, and offered him food and a place to clean up occasionally. Magana did not live at Crespo’s Henry St. apartment, police said. Crespo, known to his friends and family by his middle name, Manolo, was a pastor at a Pentecostal church on East Broadway. He had lived on Henry St. for more than 30 years, having emigrated from Puerto Rico at age 18 to Miami, moving in his early 20s to New York City in pursuit of a career as a seamstress, which was a family tradition that included fashion design. He retired many years ago, and continued to do piece work on the side.

Police said they have not determined if robbery was a motive in the murder.

Crespo’s naked body, clad only in socks, was found naked.

According to police, the morning of Crespo’s death, Mangana arrived in a drunken state at the victim’s apartment around 1 a.m. In his confession, Mangana said he passed out and was awakened later in the morning by Crespo making a sexual advance of some sort.

Police were able to capture Magana, because Crespo had introduced him to a friend who lived down the street. Using the description he provided, police surveyed the neighborhood, found him and brought Magana in for questioning. The interrogation lasted nine hours, after which Magana cried and confessed to the killing.

A police official said that Mangana has tattoos indicating he may have been involved in other murders. According to police, an ink tattoo of an empty heart on his body with the words Vatos Locos, a known Mexican gang, may be a type of memorial to someone Mangana has killed in the past.

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