A 51-year-old female racetrack employee was stabbed to death at Belmont Park early Sunday morning. The woman, later identified as Maria Larin, had been stabbed multiple times and left in a barn in the park’s backstretch area. Nassau County Police arrested Jose Franco-Martinez, 53, in the incident and charged him with second-degree murder.
Police were called to the scene by a New York Racing Association security official after a horse was spotted wandering unattended. Larin, who worked at the track as a hot walker responsible for cooling horses down after their workouts or races, was taken from the scene to a local hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.
Franco-Martinez, of no fixed abode, was arraigned on Monday in First District Court in Hempstead. Homicide Chief Det. Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick said Larin appeared to have had been targeted, although no specific motive for the attack was given. Franco-Martinez was known as a former boyfriend.
It was unclear how Franco-Martinez gained access to the stable area, which is in a high-security area of the park. Police were still trying to locate the murder weapon at press time, and the investigation is ongoing.