GREENWICH VILLAGE, Manhattan (PIX11) – Detective Kelly Wheeler from the 6th Squad in the West Village has been nagged by an unsolved case since April 29, 2011. That’s the day she met 83-year-old Joseph Felix Sibilla in the emergency room at Beth Israel Medical Center on East 16th Street in Manhattan.
“The way he looked, no 83-year-old man should look like that,” Wheeler recently told PIX11.
Sibilla’s face had been beaten so badly, it was purple, with multiple broken bones and one of his eye sockets fractured. But his internal injuries were much more severe.
Within a week of the attack, by an intruder trying to burglarize his apartment, Sibilla needed surgery for an inflamed colon. Three days later, on May 10, 2011, he died.
“To me, it’s as despicable as it gets,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler and the NYPD have now released additional surveillance footage, showing a “person of interest” walking up Sibilla’s sidewalk on West 12th Street, exactly a minute before the elderly man strolled up the same sidewalk, pushing along his walker. Sibilla was returning from his daily lunch at the Caring Community Center in Greenwich Village. Detectives say the suspected burglar was wearing a blue hat, a denim jacket, dark pants, and carrying a newspaper, and he managed to get into Sibilla’s building through a basement door that was left open. Sibilla lived more than 50 years on West 12th Street off Fifth Avenue, working as a psychotherapist with his wife, Marie, until she died from cancer several years ago. He was an electrical engineer, a Navy vet, a former pilot, and long-time volunteer at First Presbyterian Church on his corner.
Sibilla’s home health care aide told police she discovered the old man bleeding in his kitchen about 3 p.m. on April 29. 2011. Sibilla kept looking for his wallet. His empty jewelry boxes were out on his bed, along with ransacked drawers.
Another surveillance video released back in 2011 showed the same “person of interest” walking down the street on April 29, 2011, appearing to count money.
The victim’s nephew, Dana Sibilla, told PIX11 his uncle relayed what happened to him and his brother. “He told my brother directly that he tried to fight back against the guy,” Dana Sibilla said. “He was kicked in the abdomen.”
A woman at the senior center, Alexandra Chiotis, told PIX, “When he was younger, I understand he was a boxer, but he was elderly now.”
Detective Wheeler said the case was ruled a homicide, because Sibilla died from injuries sustained in the original assault. She told PIX11 she hopes viewers will take a close look at all the surveillance.
“Maybe this guy wears this hat every day,” she said. “Maybe they’ll recognize his walk, his jacket. Hopefully, someone will recognize him and help us.”
The NYPD is offering a reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction. You can make a confidential call to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.
A number of women at the Caring Community Center said they’d been charmed by Sibilla and missed his presence.
“Positively devastating,” said Ethel Dichter. “because that was a worthwhile person, and now, he’s no longer with us.”