EAST VILLAGE, N.Y. (PIX11) — Danny Liggett was 37, living in Hoboken, and had a Ph.D. in education when he went on the run from law enforcement in May 1987, authorities said.
The FBI said Liggett’s desperation for drug money on May 5 that year led him to a building in the East Village of Manhattan, where he hoped to sell a watch. Instead, Liggett’s friend, Helen Torres, took him there.
“She told him to stay downstairs,” FBI Special Agent Kyanne Sager told PIX11 News.
The man living in the fifth-floor walk-up apartment on East 10th Street, Kissoon Adams, was paralyzed from the waist down, used a wheelchair, and didn’t have enough money to buy the watch. Liggett allegedly became enraged.
“He took out a knife and stabbed Mr. Adams repeatedly, causing his demise,” NYPD Det. Raymond McCann told PIX11 News on Friday. “And Ms. Torres was cut to her throat.”
McCann said old police reports indicate Liggett warned Torres if she talked to the authorities, he would kill her.
Torres ended up in a hospital, where she told investigators what allegedly happened. Liggett fled from New York City, and police believe he initially went to Georgia.
“There was a shooting in Gainesville in 1988 he was connected to,” McCann said.
But 35 years later, the FBI/NYPD Joint Violent Crimes Task Force believes Liggett is out of the country, and they’re offering a $25,000 reward for information that leads to his arrest.
“With Ray and I were coming in and having a fresh set of eyes, we re-interviewed witnesses who led us to new people,” Sager said.
McCann said one key witness knew Liggett from the late 80s and early 90s.
“That witness told us at some point in 1992, he (Liggett) procured a passport,” McCann said.
The detective said a friend of Liggett’s on the Lower East Side of Manhattan bought a “gentleman’s passport” for $500 and gave it to the fugitive.
“And we believe that passport was used for Danny to leave the country for Southeast Asia, specifically the Philippines, was mentioned by two witnesses,” McCann said.
The FBI has been in touch with Filipino authorities, hoping to track down Liggett, who would be 73 years old. The bureau has published a new poster showing age-enhancement images of Liggett, with and without a mustache. The last known photo of Liggett showed him wearing a business suit and tie, with dark hair and a mustache.
The FBI said Liggett used to organize business seminars.
“He’s a very intelligent guy,” Sager said. “I think he’s doing a good job on making sure he’s not found — if he’s still alive.”
The agent said Liggett was also very familiar with the Red Lake region of Canada, a secluded vacation spot that’s not easily accessible.
“He would go with his family, typical guy trips, and they would go fishing; there were cabins there,” Sager said.
The FBI said Liggett was living in Hoboken with a girlfriend, Diane Downey — who is now deceased — when he disappeared.
Sager and McCann also learned Liggett was getting financial help from friends and family over the years. His drug problems dated back to an arrest in Des Moines, Iowa, in his late teens. Liggett was born in the Midwest.
Investigators believe Liggett had a Snoopy tattoo on his left arm, but they’re not sure if it was a cartoon image of the popular character or if the word “Snoopy” was spelled out. Liggett was 5-foot10 and about 145 pounds when he disappeared.
Sager said it’s essential to find out what happened to Liggett.
“If he’s dead, that’s not the outcome we would like,” Sager said. “But for us, that’s our chance to close the case.”
Anyone with information about Liggett is asked to call the FBI New York at 1-800-CALL-FBI or the NYPD at 800-577-TIPS.