GREENWICH, Conn. (AP) - A woman found dead and bound in a suitcase in a wooded area of Connecticut was identified Thursday as a 24-year-old New York resident who worked at a bookstore and aspired to be a tattoo artist, according to police and co-workers.
Greenwich, Connecticut, police identified the woman as Valerie Reyes, of New Rochelle, New York, who was last seen Jan. 29 and was reported missing the next day after she did not show up for work.
Highway workers found the body Tuesday morning in a wooded section of Greenwich, about 10 miles from New Rochelle. Officials said Reyes' hands and feet were bound. Police are investigating her death as a homicide. No arrests have been announced.
The chief medical examiner's office has completed an autopsy but has not yet released the cause and manner of Reyes' death. Her family was notified of the positive identification Wednesday night, police said.
"They are obviously devastated by the loss of Valerie and our heartfelt condolences go out to them," Greenwich police Capt. Robert Berry said in a statement. "The Greenwich Police Department is dedicated to identifying those responsible for the death of Valerie and ensuring justice for her and her family."
Greenwich police are working with New Rochelle authorities and other law enforcement agencies and have received numerous tips about the case.
New York City police on Jan. 31 asked the public for help in finding Reyes, and said in a Twitter post that she was last seen wearing a green coat, black jeans and black shoes. Police also said she suffered from anxiety and depression.
Reyes worked at a Barnes & Noble store in Eastchester, New York, since it opened 2 ½ years ago, according to the bookstore chain.
"The entire Barnes & Noble community is grieving the loss of our beloved employee Valerie Reyes," Barnes & Noble said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to her family, friends, and coworkers during this difficult time."
Reyes was passionate about art and enjoyed drawing and painting, according to Lauren Bradford, who said she worked with Reyes at the bookstore for about 10 months before Bradford left the job to go to college a few months ago. Reyes had plans to train to become a tattoo artist, Bradford said.
"Horrified. Absolutely horrified," said Bradford, 19. "I'm just like totally shocked. She was a confidant. She really encouraged me and my aspirations. She had a really bright future. She was really excited about her art and her goals."
Thursday afternoon a Greenwich public works employee was placed on administrative leave after officials say the worker took photos of Reyes after her body was found. The woker is on leave pending an investigation that will determin whether discipline is warranted. Officials would not identify the worker.
#MissingPerson Have you seen VALERIE REYES? 5' 3", black hair, brown eyes, 1/2 sleeve tattoo on left arm. Last seen wearing a green coat, black jeans, and black shoes. Suffers from anxiety and depression. pic.twitter.com/vxvXi40fiV— NYPD Midtown North (@NYPDMTN) January 31, 2019