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'There was a lot of blood': Witnesses recall grisly scene of Amsterdam stabbings

Friday, January 25, 2013 - Updated: 5:31 PM

By HEATHER NELLIS

Recorder News Staff

FONDA -- Montgomery County District Attorney James E. "Jed" Conboy cut open an evidence envelope Thursday and handed it to Craig McCormick, who sat on the stand in the county courtroom.

McCormick recognized the black-and-white striped fabric pot holder tucked inside. He'd grabbed it off William McDermott's microwave to open the blood-covered deadbolt lock on the front door of the apartment in his haste to leave, he said.

McCormick was allegedly the first to see the gruesome scene at 359 Locust Ave. in Amsterdam around 5 a.m. on March 2, 2012. Still partying from the night before, looking for drugs and girls, he instead found his alleged dealer -- McDermott -- stabbed to death, face-down on the floor; a woman, identified as Cheryl Goss, also dead, curled in a fetal position.

"There was a lot of blood, everywhere," McCormick said when asked why he grabbed the pot holder, confirming blood was all over the door and the lock.

Police seized the boots McCormick wore that day, and took a sample of his DNA after he led police to the area of Locust Avenue where he disposed of the pot holder.

McCormick isn't accused of killing the pair. Conboy had warned the jury Wednesday McCormick's actions might not make sense.

"Someone once said to Mark Twain that truth is stranger than fiction, and he said, 'That's because fiction has to make sense,'" Conboy said.

It's Ivan Ramos, 31, who was indicted in September on two counts of double homicide and weapons charges. Ramos' sneakers reportedly matched the single set of shoe prints in the snow leading away the from the back of McDermott's apartment.

Conboy said Ramos' blood was also found in the snow, and in the apartment, which was soaked from the victims.

Testimony Thursday began to unfold the gruesome scene McCormick and first responders saw inside. "Blood" and synonyms of "everywhere" were used by all who testified about the scene.

Amsterdam police were called there at 5:35 a.m. by McDermott's neighbor, Richard Haver. He had just returned home and saw the bloody hallway, where Conboy said McDermott was dragged back into his apartment before the front door was locked -- the same door McCormick said he unlocked with the pot holder.

Officer Eduardo Ortiz responded to Haver's call with his patrol partner. When he knocked on McDermott's door, it creaked ajar. Ortiz went in, and Haver saw the small stove in McDermott's kitchen on its side.

Ortiz said he saw McDermott, face-down, and naked from the waist down. He checked for a pulse but could not find one. Glancing through the rest of the home, "I could see a set of legs between the furniture," Ortiz said. It was Goss, in the living room. She was reportedly first attacked in the bedroom.

Sgt. Carl Rust got to the scene just after 6 a.m. When Ortiz showed him the bodies, he recognized McDermott from meeting him before but could not recognize the female. Conboy asked if he knew Goss, and Rust said yes.

"He couldn't recognize the female," Conboy reiterated to the jury, hinting at the state of her remains. "He had met her prior, but couldn't tell it was her."

Of the cross-examination, Ramos' attorney Mark Juda's attention was focused on the number of people to walk through the crime scene, particularly the blood-streaked front hallway. He prompted the police officers, an EMT and Haver to detail the number of times they walked through the hallway.

Juda asked Haver, who had to pass McDermott's apartment to get to his own, if the police seized his boots as evidence. He said no. It appeared to be part of the strategy Juda announced Wednesday to question police procedures in the collection of evidence.

The following is a synopsis of some of the rest of Thursday's 13 testimonies:

Mario E. Rios Jr., ex-boyfriend of Elvira Ramos, Ivan Ramos' sister. Present at Elvira's home at Woodrow Road when Ivan showed up and demanded entry around 5 a.m. March 2. Heard Ramos moving a weight set that blocked entry to the downstairs bathroom, then running water. Saw blood in the bathroom the next morning, and cleaned it.

Elizabeth Cox, newspaper carrier for the Recorder. Approached at the Market Street FasTrac by a woman unknown to her, now identified as Goss, who asked for a ride to 359 Locust Ave. Goss helped her finish preparing the papers, and Cox dropped her off at the apartment. When Cox made it up to that block on her delivery route four to five hours later, police were on the scene, she said.

Craig McCormick, an acquaintance of McDermott. Visited him around 8 p.m. March 1 to buy crack, then went to Terry Dallas Reedy's house on Reid Street to drink and do drugs the rest of the night and morning until returning to McDermott's.

John Thomas, detective with APD. Reviewed video surveillance from Dunkin' Donuts on Church Street, First Niagara Bank on Reid Street and Sikorski's at Locust Avenue.

Chad Alukonis, Amsterdam police officer on desk who answered Haver's call, and two subsequent calls from Terry Dallas Reedy. McCormick went to Reedy's home after leaving McDermott's, and asked Reedy to call the police.

Paul Daw, an Amsterdam Fire Department medic who responded to the scene when Goss' and McDermott's bodies were found. With his shift partner, confirmed both were dead when heart rate monitors showed flat lines.

Carl Rust, sergeant with APD. Arrived on the scene shortly after 6 a.m. Continued to secure the scene, attesting officers had already started a crime scene log of those who had been inside the apartment that morning.

John DiCaprio, detective with APD. Presented Miranda waiver signed by Ramos, and DNA swab Ramos consented to. Detailed the department's attempt to recover camouflage jacket witnesses attested Ramos wore at McDermott's apartment the night and pre-dawn hours, as well as a knife used to slash the victims. Neither were found.

     

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