SUNNYSIDE, Queens (PIX11) – The address in Sunnyside, Queens, had a view of the Empire State Building when you stepped out on 47th Avenue.
Rose Gilbert from Tucson, Ariz., found the apartment at 42-09 on the website Roommates.com and was sleeping on John Dalton’s sofa bed in early June 2005 until he retired to Florida.
Another woman had the second bedroom, and 56-year-old Gilbert was going to sublet Dalton’s room when he moved.
That never happened.
Gilbert’s friends and family in Tucson were worried about her move to New York City, even though it was her life-long dream to make it in New York theater. Her last community theater performance at home was April 30, 2005, when she played the part of Mama Rose in the musical “Gypsy.”
Anna Schoff was Gilbert’s vocal coach and was directing her in the play.
“I was backstage,” Schoff recalled to PIX 11 from Tucson. “I got this dark feeling. A chill. Something said to me, ‘Rose can’t go. This is not good for her.’”
When Gilbert finished performing her number, she asked Schoff what was wrong. The normally affable Gilbert — known for her great sense of humor and trusting ways — became upset when Schoff told Gilbert her premonition.
“And she glared at me,” Schoff remembered, “took a step back and said, ‘You’re jealous!’”
Schoff said she never resented Gilbert’s planned move, because she’d already had her own singing career in the Big Apple.
Kristin Gilbert Taylor, one of Rose’s two adult children, recounted her last phone conversation with her mother, on the morning of June 21, 2005.
“I told her that I loved her, and that I was proud of her,” Gilbert Taylor told PIX11 during a Skype interview from Tucson.
Later that night, Gilbert’s female roommate arrived home to find the singer sprawled on the kitchen floor in Apartment 3D.
“Multiple stabbings throughout her body,” Detective Joseph Bey of Queens Homicide told PIX11. “Well over 20.”
The roommate ran out of the apartment to call 911, and when police arrived at the apartment, they found 56-year old John Dalton lying naked — face down — on his bed. He had a towel wrapped around his waist. Blood was splattered all over the walls. It looked like he was hit over the head with a blunt object, a different method of murder than Rose Gilbert’s homicide.
“It seemed to us that he may have just come out of the shower,” Bey told PIX11.
Detectives believe that Dalton was the main target for slaying and that Gilbert may have walked in at the wrong time.
One neighbor remembered that Dalton frequently had men coming and going from his apartment over the years.
“They were all young,” one neighbor, Luis, said. “20’s. Early 30’s.”
Detectives said they checked out all of Dalton’s known friends and relatives.
“We went through his phone book,” Bey told PIX11, “interviewed all his friends and acquaintances. Their alibis all checked out.”
Back in Tucson, theater director Joanne Anderson, said she had a vivid dream two days after Gilbert was brutally stabbed in Queens.
“I was in a room with Rose,” Anderson recalled. “The other people were blurry, except for a man standing in the corner, facing the wall. I asked Rose if that was the man who did it. She said, ‘Yes.’”
Anderson then described to PIX 11 what the man in her dream looked like when he “turned around.”
“He was Asian. He had an oval face, tiny mustache, dark hair…white shirt, black pants—like a waiter, something like that,” Anderson said.
Detectives from Queens Homicide will need a more solid lead than that to solve their case. Unfortunately, back in 2005, there were no surveillance cameras in the hallways of 42-09 47th Avenue in Sunnyside, Queens. Now, they’re all over the place.
Anyone with even a tiny morsel of information is encouraged to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS. There’s a $10,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the double homicide.
“It’s hard, especially when there’s no one to blame,” Kristin Gilbert Taylor said from Tucson. “It’s just this faceless monster.”
Taylor told PIX11 she once blamed New York City for what happened, but not so much anymore.
“My mom fell in love with New York,” the daughter said. “And that’s the reason she went.”