Uncovering Fordham’s True Crime Past

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COURTESY OF RYAN MCGILCHRIST VIA FLICKR

Much of the Fordham community remains unaware of tragic happenings involving students.

By EMMA SEIWELL, Assistant Features Editor

In the palmy days of one’s college years, it’s easy to overlook the lingering threat of campus violence and crime. Often preoccupied with the day-to-day academic demands and social occupations, comfortable in the secluded community that university life cultivates, students can lose sight of the fact that their campuses are very much a part of the real world. 

The following two criminal cases involve members of Fordham’s past student populations, but the specific circumstances stand at opposite ends of the spectrum. Considering the relatively small size of the Fordham student body, it is shocking that such newsworthy events involved Fordham students.

In February 1997, Fordham junior Patrick McNeill, Fordham College at Rose Hill ’98, went missing after a night out with friends at a popular Upper East Side college bar called the Dapper Dog. Around midnight, when McNeill decided he was going to head back to Fordham’s Rose Hill campus close to midnight, a female friend of his asked him to wait for her outside while she went to the restroom. When she came back minutes later, McNeill was gone.

Two days later, a friend reported him missing. For seven weeks, the NYPD, McNeill’s family and hundreds of volunteers led an exhaustive round the clock search, canvassing the area and hanging missing persons signs. On April 6, his body was found floating aside the 69th Street Pier in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, in the East River. 

His death was classified as undetermined after an autopsy was conducted. His blood alcohol content was confirmed 0.16 at the time of death and the NYPD’s official consensus was that he drunkenly stumbled three blocks away from the bar to the East River, fell in and drowned. 

However, Kevin Gannon, former NYPD detective who worked on the case, refused to believe this assessment. Gannon believes McNeill was stalked, abducted, held for an extended period of time, murdered and disposed in the East River based on substantial analyses of evidence. Twenty three years ago, Gannon promised McNeill’s family he would find the people who did this and continues the investigation today with a team of private investigators. 

Much of the gathered evidence does not align with the announced conclusion of accidental drowning. Details including recovery location, body position, ante-mortem burn marks, additional marks suggesting binding and illogical decomposition patterns led Gannon and his team of private investigators to believe McNeill was murdered.

When told about the death and possible homicide case of Patrick McNeill, Emma Federer, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’21, stated, “It’s a bit disturbing to hear that Fordham has a past with mysterious deaths. It’s not surprising, however, that I don’t know anything about this case given the fact that it has been 23 years since it happened.”

In 2008, Fordham commuter student Anastasiya Andreyeva, FCLC ’08, stabbed 30-year-old Aleksey Kats in his Flatbush home. Kats was the husband of Elina Kats, a woman Andreyeva had a fling with while both in high school together. In court, Andreyeva admitted to stabbing Kats, but pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, stating that she heard voices that drove her to stab him. 

Her Fordham peers and professors found the murder to be a shock, being that she was a supposedly bright, hard-working student that had never showed any signs of extreme psychological distress or instability. Many of them did, however, note her troubling behavior in the weeks leading up to the murder. 

Two doctors confirmed that Andreyeva couldn’t be held criminally responsible due to determined insanity and prosecutors allowed her to make the insanity plea. 

These grave cases go largely unknown by the school’s community. Upon hearing about two cases which were particularly unusual in nature, many students were shocked by the grim events that are a part of their school’s history. 

Olivia Cook, FCLC ’20, said, “As a self proclaimed true crime enthusiast, I’m shocked that I never heard of these murders — especially since they are so close to home.” 

When considering why it is important that students know about these events, Leo Bernabei FCLC ’22, commented, “It’s always important for college students to be vigilant when going out. We’re very fortunate to live in a safe area of Manhattan, but tragic events can occur even here (as we saw with McNeill). Never let your guard down, go out with others and avoid situations that leave you in a vulnerable state.”