When the battered body of graduate student Imette St. Guillen turned up in a ditch on Fountain Ave. in Brooklyn N.Y. back in 2006, one of the first steps police took to recreate the events leading up to her death, was to piece together all of the disparate bits of surveillance video provided by the dozens of private businesses dotting her last known trajectory; a single frame shot of her leaving the Pioneer bar in the Bowery, ambling past a deli, a pharmacy, a jewelry store, another bar, The Falls, on Spring Street-all strung together against the tony backdrop of So-Ho in what was to be her final sojourn.
Immortalized in the song, “The Pioneer to The Falls,” by the band Interpol, St. Guillen’s brief trek to The Falls ended up with her going over them.
Girl, I know you try, you fly straight into my heart
You fly straight into my heart, but here comes the fall
Show me the dirt pile and I will pray….
Unencumbered, she arrived at The Falls shortly before closing. Her killer, an ex-convict on parole named Darryl Littlejohn, was the club’s bouncer. A hardened criminal, no doubt he sensed St. Guillen’s vulnerability, and when asked by the bartender to escort her off of the premises, Littlejohn eagerly obliged. Lightly buzzed, chatty, cheerful, and alone, St. Guillen’s carefree night ended at daybreak, in a darkened basement, with a violent struggle in search of her next breath. She would never find it, ending her horrifying morning in icy death.
Wrapped in a wool blanket stained with semen, a balled up dirty sock stuffed into her mouth, St. Guillen was brutalized, raped, murdered and like garbage, dumped in a muddy lot thatched with weeds.
By scouring the footage documenting St. Guillen’s hapless journey from The Pioneer to The Falls, investigators restricted their focus to The Falls bar, zeroing in on Littlejohn. Examining his cell phone records, police tracked pings from his device to cellular towers near where St. Guillen’s remains were discovered. When DNA samples extracted from the wool blanket Littlejohn used to discard St. Guillen’s body in ended up matching two other members of Littlejohn’s family, his fate was sealed.
In an added irony, Falls’ owner, Danny Dorrian, is a member of the famed Dorrian clan, former owners of “Dorrian’s Red Hand,” the bar where Jennifer Levin met, “Preppie Killer,” Robert Chambers shortly before her death in 1986.
In 2007, NY passed a new law mandating establishments requiring a cabaret license to have surveillance cameras set up at all exit and entrances installed on their premises.