Sunday, September 09, 2007
Another outrageous crime commited by Shantelle Schruggs stabbing to death to pregnant woman Barbara Santos and efforts to save her unborn child was unsuccesful.
Brian Santos, 5, rushed to his pregnant mother in a room at a North Bay Shore shelter and pressed a towel to the blood on her chest, just moments after he watched as she was stabbed, the child's great-uncle said yesterday.
About an hour later, Barbara Santos, 26, was dead, the victim of a dispute Friday night with another pregnant woman at the shelter, police said. Santos was eight months pregnant, and efforts by doctors to save her unborn child were unsuccessful.
"It breaks my heart that my little nephew had to witness something like that," Teofilo Santos, the great-uncle, said as he broke into tears on the steps of his porch in Bay Shore.
Shantelle Schruggs, 21, also eight months pregnant, was arrested at the scene and charged with first-degree manslaughter. At her arraignment yesterday in First District Court in Central Islip, she was ordered held on $1 million bail or $2 million bond. Police said she had no history of violent behavior.
Det. Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick said the two women had an ongoing feud and Schruggs stabbed Santos with a small knife in another woman's bedroom in the Project ReDirect shelter at 16 Pine Aire Dr. about 10 p.m. Friday.
The project manager called police and medical officials, but Santos died at the scene at 11:23 p.m.
Both police and Santos' relatives said they didn't know the cause of the feud. The woman in whose room the stabbing occurred, whom police did not identify, is cooperating with authorities.
In addition to Brian, Santos has a daughter, Breana, 7. Schruggs has 1-year-old twins, police said.
"A few more weeks and I would have had another nephew," said Teofilo Santos, wiping tears from his eyes.
Jose Villfene, the dead woman's grandfather, said he had just spoken to her within the last few days.
"She sounded happy and healthy," Villfene said. "I don't understand how this could've happened."
The grandfather and great-uncle said Schruggs deserves to serve the maximum sentence in prison, for Barbara Santos' life and for the life of her unborn child.
"She has to pay for both lives," Villfene said. "I don't want any parole. I want her to do time for what she's done."
Sandra Santos, an aunt, said her niece had fallen on hard times after she purchased a condominium from a man who was not the owner, a situation that forced her and her family to the shelter, where she was trying to get back on her feet.
For now, the children will stay with Teofilo and Sandra Santos.
"We need to figure out what's best for them," said Sandra Santos. "We just have to help them get through this difficult time."
The whereabouts of Schruggs' children was unclear yesterday. Police and an official at the Suffolk County Jail said they did not know where the twins were.
Project ReDirect, founded in 1996, is a nonprofit organization that helps homeless families find housing and offers emergency support services.
The manager of the shelter was not available for comment yesterday. Telephone calls to the agency's Babylon office were not immediately returned.
Security was tight yesterday afternoon at the two-story shelter, which can house about 20 families. Edward Munoz, the director of security, said no one was available for comment.
Fitzpatrick said the stabbing was the first instance of violence at the North Bay Shore shelter to which police had been called.