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Death of Oakland Gardens woman in 2022 reclassified as a homicide: NYPD

Jun. 23, 2023 By Bill Parry

The NYPD announced on June 23 that an investigation into the death of a 60-year-old Oakland Gardens woman has been reclassified as a homicide investigation. Charges against an Astoria man who was arrested last April for assault in connection with the purse-snatching gone wrong will likely be upgraded, police said.

The fatal mugging went down on the morning of April 16, 2022, in the parking lot of the Key Food store on 73rd Avenue in Oakland Gardens, where Caroline Bonacci was walking when Paul Weisner, 56, pulled up alongside her in a white Nissan Sentra and allegedly snatched her purse from the driver’s side window. A preliminary investigation determined that Bonacci reached into the vehicle in an attempt to retrieve her purse when Weisner pushed her away and sped off at a high rate of speed. The victim fell to the ground striking her head on the pavement.

Police from the 111th Precinct in Bayside found Bonacci lying in a pool of blood with trauma to her head. EMS responded and rushed the victim to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, where she was listed in critical condition.

Weisner was arrested later that day after he was pulled over in the white Nissan Sentra near the Triborough Bridge, a few blocks north of his apartment on 38th Street in Astoria. He was taken back to the 111th Precinct and charged with assault, robbery, reckless driving and other crimes. He was ordered held without bail and remains detained on Rikers Island.

The victim never recovered fully and she succumbed to her injuries on Oct. 22, 2022. The city’s Chief Medical Examiner’s Office declared Bonacci’s death as a homicide on Wednesday, June 14.

A spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said the investigation is ongoing and Weisner’s next court date is scheduled for July 18.

Bonacci, who never married or had children, grew up in Fresh Meadows and graduated from Queens College, where she studied education. She then went on to work for various companies as a claims adjuster with a specialty in workers’ compensation cases. She retired in 2021.

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