An 18-year-old student yesterday pleaded guilty to the rape and murder of 21-year-old Rachel Brecher last March. She was eight months pregnant at the time.
Richard Hontoria is a student at Newton High School. Mrs. Brecher died of asphyxiation after being shoved into a large oil-burning furnace in the basement of the building in the garment center, where she had gone to buy a coat for her mother. A sanitation man found the charred nude body in a cardboard box in front of the building.
Mr. H said that Mrs. B had annoyed him by ringing incessantly for the elevator while he was in the basement fixing himself a cheese sandwich. He said he told Mrs. B, “The more you ring, the more you wait,” and she had snapped back, “it’s your job,” and had swung her pocketbook at him (unlikely). At that point he said he punched her and forced her into the basement. There, he said, he bound her, placed a bag over her head, beat her, raped her then tricked her into climbing into the furnace – which was not on – by telling her it was a window. He then shut the door and turned the furnace on.
Speaking softly, the bearded youth said he had difficulty remembering the details of the crime because he had taken LSD. He did not specify when he had taken the drug, which he said had given him a “bad trip.”
The Manhattan DA said they would seek the maximum: 25 years to life. Residents of Borough Park said, “We believe in capital punishment. We will not forget. We will always remember this case as long as he is living.”
excerpt from Leslie Maitland NYT 9/27/77