New York City Woman Helps Track Down Her Father’s Alleged Killer

Police reportedly refused at first to believe Jorge Conejo’s death wasn’t the result of a fall.

July 14, 2020

Jorge Conejo and daughter Jennifer Espinal [WABC]

Jorge Conejo and daughter Jennifer Espinal [WABC]

By: Aaron Rasmussen

A New York City woman who refused to accept her elderly dad’s death was an accident launched her own investigation and helped nab an alleged murderer.

Just before midnight on June 20, Jorge Conejo, a 76-year-old Ecuadorian immigrant who moved to the United States a half century ago, was found lying on a Queens street with a head injury, which proved fatal five days later.

Conejo’s daughter, Jennifer Espinal, said EMTs thought Conejo died from an accidental fall, but family, including her brother, was hearing a different version of events around the neighborhood.

“He said, ‘Jen, everyone is saying the same story: that dad was murdered,’” Espinal, a 45-year-old nurse, told New York City’s WABC.

Jennifer Espinal handing out flyers in an attempt to gain more information about her father's death [WABC]

Jennifer Espinal handing out flyers in an attempt to gain more information about her father's death [WABC]

When Espinal talked to an NYPD lieutenant from the local precinct, she claimed he refused to further investigate the incident or write up a report.

“He didn't even care. My dad to him was nothing, but to us, my dad was everything, he mattered,” she said, according to The New York Daily News.

The lieutenant “made me a vigilante,” Espinal continued. “The last thing I imagine every day is how my dad was laying down, how horrible, how savage my dad was murdered.”

According to Espinal, the allegedly dismissive lieutenant suggested she find evidence proving her dad’s death was a crime; as a result, she managed to dig up surveillance video and photos of what really happened.

The evidence she gathered showed a man leave a grocery store, attack her father and then flee. Consequently, the medical examiner declared Conejo’s death a homicide, and police opened an investigation.

On July 8, law enforcement took Daniel Rodriguez, 45, into custody on charges of murder and assault, according to People.

Espinal's efforts led to the eventual arrest of the alleged murderer [WABC/NYPD Crime Stoppers]

Espinal's efforts led to the eventual arrest of the alleged murderer [WABC/NYPD Crime Stoppers]

“I am happy he is not going to be able to hurt someone else’s family,” Espinal reportedly said after the arrest. “I don’t know what demons he had that made him do this, but I hope he gets the help he needs.”

“I am not going to have hate in my heart,” she added, noting, “It’s not what my dad would have wanted — he never had hate in his heart.”

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