Police Arrest Drifter in Downtown Murder

Suspect tells police he was fending off sexual advance of elderly victim in brutal murder

On July 18, two days after police made the grisly discovery of the beaten and stabbed corpse of elderly Chinatown resident, detectives arrested José Louis Bustos Magana, 28, and said he has confessed to the brutal murder.

According to the police, Magana claimed that Juan Crespo, 75, a Henry Street resident, made an unwanted sexual advance while the accused slept off a night of drinking.

Magana is charged with second-degree murder and is being held without bail, pending a grand jury appearance on August 29.

The city’s medical examiner has determined that Crespo suffered multiple fractured ribs from punches and kicks. The cause of death was blunt trauma to the head, strangulation and stab wounds to the torso.

Magana is reportedly an illegal alien who left his native Mexico three or fours years ago and settled in Florida, where he has an arrest record for marijuana possession.

He arrived in New York five months ago and briefly lived with a male acquaintance and that man’s wife on Rutgers Street. According to New York police, the couple told Magana to leave their apartment a few weeks ago and he began living on the streets. Residents around the Lower East Side described Magana as a heavy drinker, who supported himself by panhandling.

Crespo met Magana within the last several weeks and offered the younger man food and his apartment as a place to clean up and rest. Magana did not live at Crespo’s apartment, police said.

Police responded to the murder victim’s apartment after neighbors reported a foul odor in the building. Police said they could not determine if Crespo was robbed. Crespo’s body was found naked in a bedroom, wearing only socks. Among the elderly man’s possessions, investigators found Crespo’s clerical ID badge as a minister for a Pentecostal church. Police said that Magana did not appear to be a congregant of the church.

Magana arrived in a drunken state at Crespo’s apartment at 1 a.m. on July 16, according to police. Magana then passed out, according to his confession, and awoke in the morning to Crespo making a sexual advance. Police said that Magana has denied having a prior sexual relationship with Crespo.

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