Two Charged in Murder Case Cold for 21 Years
Howard Pilmar’s successful business career was cut short in 1996 when he was found stabbed 27 times in a hallway near his office in Midtown Manhattan.
The brutality of the attack, the fact that the building wasn’t breached by force, and that his wallet wasn’t taken, led investigators to suspect someone close to the 40-year-old killed him.
Suspicion fell on his wife, Roslyn, but there wasn’t enough evidence against her, The New York Times reported at the time.
Yet, 21 years later on Aug. 15, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. announced Roslyn Pilmar and her brother Evan Wald had been charged with killing Howard Pilmar.
Prosecutors said more evidence has been developed and more witnesses interviewed, CBS New York reported.
Howard Pilmar ran an office supply store combined with a coffee shop at East 33d Street, just a block away from the Empire State Building. The unusual combination not only gave the store an edge against competition, but allowed him to open a solo coffee shop too.
Roslyn Pilmar used to work at a dentist’s office, but in 1995 took on the job of managing the coffee business. A year later, her former employer found out she had stolen some $200,000 from his business. He wanted the money back.
On the evening of March 21, 1996, Pilmar was visited by his wife and Wald in his office. Wald said he and Pilmar went to a nearby gym to work out. Pilmar then returned to his office and Wald and Roslyn Pilmar left.
The next morning, Pilmar’s body was discovered by the company’s controller lying on the floor about 40 feet from his office.
Wald, who also worked for Pilmar’s company, wasn’t happy with how the police questioned him and his sister.
”The police are harassing the family,” he said. ”They’re treating us like we’re suspects instead of looking for the real killer. There are a lot of people who might have motivations, people with something to gain by his death.”
Following the murder, Roslyn Pilmar collected almost $1.5 million in life insurance. She also gained ownership of Howard Pilmar’s office supply and coffee shop businesses, a summer home, an Upper East Side apartment, and custody of the couple’s then 10-year-old son.
On April 30, 1999, she pleaded guilty to the theft of $200,000, paid it back, and was sentenced to probation.
Pilmar’s father, Frank, raised over $80,000 to post as a reward for catching his son’s killer. Roslyn Pilmar, however, didn’t contribute to the cause, he told The New York Times. She even refused to let him visit his grandson.
“In 1996, this murder shocked New Yorkers, mystified law enforcement, and the killers eluded justice,” said Vance. “But, in the more than two decades that have passed since Howard Pilmar was brutally stabbed to death, prosecutors in my office’s Cold Case Unit and NYPD detectives never forgot this shocking crime. I thank them for their dedication, and hope that this prosecution will bring closure to Mr. Pilmar’s loved ones.”
Roslyn Pilmar pleaded not guilty.