BY MICHAEL RICONDA
NEW CITY – The Clarkstown Police held a press conference today to announce last night’s arrest of four suspects on charges related to the January 25 murder of Clarkstown resident Peggy Nadell, 81.
Two of the suspects, Diana Nadell, 50 of Cutler Bay, Florida and Andrea Benson, 25 of Washington D.C., were arrested on charges of second degree murder and second degree conspiracy to commit murder. Two more, Tanisha Joyner, 26 of Washington D.C. And Elita Grant, 24 of East Long Beach, California, were arrested for second degree conspiracy to commit murder alone.
Clarkstown Police Chief Michael Sullivan explained the case was ongoing and many of the investigation’s details remain confidential. They did not explain how or why the various alleged actors were connected. Sullivan did announce all suspects were taken into custody outside of New York State through a collaborative effort from the U.S. Marshall Service, the FBI, the Westchester County Intelligence Unit, and local police units across the country.
“Peggy Nadell was a healthy and vibrant woman who had many years of life ahead of her,” Sullivan stated. “On January 25, under the cover of darkness, persons came to this Town, violated the sanctity of this community, committed murder, and thought they had gotten away with it. Because of the outstanding work of these men and women, the people responsible for that will be coming back to this community to answer for it.”
Sullivan confirmed that all of the arrested suspects knew each other personally, but only Diana, who is Peggy’s daughter-in-law, is known to have had a relationship with Peggy. Though Peggy’s daughter Suzanne Scaccio-Nadell and her husband Robert Scaccio had also questioned regarding the death, they are not suspects at this time.
Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe, who was also in attendance, commended the work of all law enforcement involved and stated the DA’s office plans to pursue extradition of the suspects so they can stand before a grand jury.
“I have never seen a case that was so thoroughly and exhaustively pursued,” Zugibe said. “It was a very sophisticated investigation conducted by a professional police department.”
Peggy Nadell, who was known locally as a councilwoman for the Clarkstown Democrats and an active volunteer with the Jewish Community Center, was found stabbed to death in her home at 644 Andover Road in Valley Cottage. An autopsy report listed the cause of death as “homicidal violence” but did not elaborate on what kind of physical trauma Nadell sustained.
From an early stage of the investigation, police worked with the theory that Peggy knew her killer. Nadell’s house had no signs of forced entry, signaling the murder was likely committed by somebody who had access to her home.
“We’ve stated from the beginning we knew Peggy Nadell knew the killer and no one else in the community was in danger,” Sullivan stated.
Though police stated the motive behind the murder was still under investigation, it has been suggested money might have been a factor. Shortly after the murder, police froze Peggy’s funds while they conducted their investigation.
Prior to the arrest of Diana Nadell the case had also generated significant controversy due to allegations by the Clarkstown PD that Clarkstown Justice Howard Gerber had tipped off Scaccio-Nadell to an impending search warrant. Gerber denied the allegations, which are now before an ethics panel.
One police source told the Rockland County Times that a story circulating in the law enforcement community regarding the motive of the daughter-in-law goes as follows:
The daughter-in-law (Diana Nadell) had a big fight with Peggy Nadell the week before the homicide, because she had wanted to borrow money to go on vacation. When Peggy Nadell refused they had a big fight in which Diana threatened not to let her see her grandchildren again. Subsequently Diana found out she had been removed from Peggy’s will.
This reported motive has not been confirmed and should be considered merely an informed rumor.