Flushing man eyed in slay of girlfriend at JFK hotel

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A Flushing man employed by a Kennedy Airport hotel was arrested early Monday morning for allegedly killing a front-desk clerk he had been dating by slashing her throat in a basement room while she was on duty Sunday, authorities said.

Jorge San Pablo, 39, of 132-35 Sanford Ave., was arraigned Monday night in Queens Criminal Court on charges of second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon before Judge Lenora Gerald, who ordered him held without bail, a spokesman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Workers at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel at 145-11 North Conduit Ave. in South Jamaica discovered the body of Martha Diaz, 27, after receiving a call at the front desk instructing them to look in the basement, police said.

They found Diaz, a front desk clerk from Brooklyn, lying on the floor of a maintenance closet with the right side of her throat slashed, police said. The mother of two was fully clothed and had not been sexually assaulted, according to police.

Hotel security tapes seized by police show Diaz walking into the basement room with San Pablo, who is later seen leaving by himself, authorities said. The call came into the front desk minutes later.

Diaz, a hotel employee for about three years, had been working a day shift at the time of her death, police said. They believe she went down to the basement with San Pablo of her own accord.

Law enforcement sources said they believe San Pablo killed Diaz after tension in their romantic relationship made him snap. A co-worker who spoke to detectives described Diaz as a jealous and possessive girlfriend, which made San Pablo nervous and angry, law enforcement sources said.

Hotel officials refused to comment on the specifics of the case, citing the ongoing investigation.

But in the prepared statement made outside the hotel Sunday evening, general manager Timothy McGlinchey said "at this time, the safety and security of our guests and associates is our top priority."

By about 5 p.m. the 13-story hotel overlooking the Cross Island Parkway had settled back into a veneer of normalcy after officers from the Police Department's Emergency Services Unit spent much of the afternoon combing the building with protective shields and dogs.

Taxis pulled up sporadically to drop off hotel guests, many of whom remarked about the visible police presence and reacted with incredulous shock when they heard what had happened.

Jonathan Fuchs, 38, the head of the legal department for Iceland Air who was staying in the hotel at the time of the murder, said he was comfortable remaining at the Marriott despite the crime.

"Things happen," he said. "The security here is very. very good, and I feel very safe here."

But Martin Birnbaum, 44, of Long Island was not so sure.

"Now I'm a little frightened," he said.

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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