Suspect charged for killing Zhiwen Yan

Glen Hirsch, 51, of Briarwood has been indicted by a grand jury on charges related to the death of Zhiwen Yan, a 45-year-old Chinese food restaurant delivery worker from Middle Village, who was gunned down on his scooter back in April, just moments after dropping off an order in Forest Hills.

Zhiwen Yan and his wife on their wedding day.

According to investigators, on April 30, the suspect was observed on multiple surveillance cameras driving by the Great Wall Chinese Restaurant on Queens Boulevard.

Allegedly he had passed by the restaurant seven times, just before 9:30 p.m., when the victim, Yan, was said to have left the restaurant to deliver an order. He then managed to get behind the scooter and followed him to the address at 108th Street in Forest Hills.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said that Yan then dropped off the food order, returned to the scooter, and rode away. It was when he stopped at a red light, at the corner of 67th Drive and 108th Street, when Hirsch allegedly approached the victim on foot.

Having recognized Hirsch, Yan started to back away on the scooter. At that moment, the suspect allegedly fired a single shot, striking the delivery worker in the chest causing him to fall off his scooter. EMS quickly responded and transported Yan to NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst where he was pronounced dead. The suspect and his Lexus RX3 SUV were also seen racing away from the scene.

“As alleged, a petty dispute over a take-out order became an obsessive point of contention for the defendant who began to stalk and harass employees at the restaurant for months,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement following the indictment. “The tragic end result was the murder of a hard-working employee, who left behind a devastated family and a grieving community. Gun violence is never the answer and will not be tolerated in Queens County. Following a thorough investigation by my office and the NYPD, the defendant has been apprehended and will now face justice in our Courts.”

Hirsch already had a history of causing issues with employees at the Great Wall Chinese Restaurant going back to Nov. 30, 2021, when the suspect allegedly placed an order that evening asking for extra packets of duck sauce, which he was provided. Nevertheless, he became irate and insisted that the restaurant refund his money because he wanted to return the food. But when the worker refused to take it back, Hirsch called the police.

When police arrived, the employee explained that due to COVID-19 protocols, they could not accept the order back. Hirsch then stormed out of the restaurant. Over the months that followed, he allegedly threatened and harassed several Great Wall employees, including the owner, Kai Yang.

The allegations further indicated that on Dec. 16, 2021, the victim, Zhiwen Yan, saw the defendant using a knife to damage a worker’s car that was parked outside. Hirsch allegedly threatened him, saying “I have a gun,” and “be careful, this is the last time I’m going to tell you.”

But as Hirsch left towards his vehicle, three restaurant workers followed and confronted him. One of them pulled down his mask while the others took pictures of his face and the license plate of his gray Lexus SUV with their cellphones.

The charges state that Hirsch then returned to the restaurant again on Jan. 28, this time brandishing a firearm and talking to one of the workers who was outside shoveling snow. He reportedly said, “How’s your car? Remember me? I will kill your entire family.” The employee quickly rushed back inside to call the police. When he returned outside, the suspect was gone but the tires on his car were slashed.

Hirsch was arrested on June 1, following the issuance of a warrant. A subsequent court-authorized search warrant was later executed at his wife’s home, where police say they recovered eight firearms from inside a closet believed to contain items belonging to the suspect.

He was arraigned before Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth C. Holder on a 10-count indictment and is being charged with second degree murder, possession of a weapon, criminal mischief, menacing, and stalking.

If convicted on all charges, Hirsch faces between 29 and 44 years-to-life in prison.

Forest Hills resident competes on ‘Jeopardy!’

Tom Philipose with Mayim Bialik, guest host of “Jeopardy!”

Tom Philipose of Forest Hills made a national TV appearance last night on America’s favorite quiz show, “Jeopardy!”

The 18-year Forest Hills resident and writing professor at CUNY Guttman Community College is no stranger to TV quiz shows, as he’s also starred on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and “Cash Cab” in the past.

Philipose has taken stabs at “Jeopardy!’s” extensive audition process of interviews and tests in the past, and was excited to be invited to the show this time around.

He said that his job as a college professor and knowing a ton of trivial facts throughout his life is what helped him during his “Jeopardy!” experience.

“I always remind students that you want to be intellectually curious, you want to know things, you don’t want to act like you got it all figured out, and that you’ve got nothing left to learn. We should keep our minds open to new things,” Philipose said.

“I’m daily in that practice of practicing what I preach, because it’s good to know what’s up and what’s going on in the world,” he continued. “So I think I’ve been prepared for this experience.”

Since “Jeopardy!” tapes multiple shows in one day, Philipose knew he would be up against reigning champion Ryan Long, who is one of four players from this season alone to make the show’s Hall of Fame list with the most consecutive games won.

Philipose gave Long a run for his money in the first round, buzzing in with multiple correct responses in a row and finding the Daily Double, where he scored an additional $1,000. He finished the first round $200 ahead of Long.

“It was a real whirlwind rewatching the episode. I was watching and thinking, ‘I don’t know this answer,’ and then I saw myself buzzing in and getting it right,” Philipose said.

“I remembered that I didn’t get any questions wrong except for Final Jeopardy, but I just did not remember buzzing in and knowing some of them yesterday. It was really weird.”

In the Double Jeopardy round, Long’s performance picked up along with the help of a Daily Double, and Philipose went into Final Jeopardy just $4,000 behind.

The question in the final category, “UNESCO World Heritage Sites,” stumped all three contestants.

Philipose shockingly wagered all of his earnings, leaving him with nothing.

“I did that because I was down by a few thousand dollars, and I didn’t want to have any regrets. I told myself ‘This guy [Long] knows a lot and I didn’t like the category at all, but let me go all out,’” he said.

“I think for me, it was the right move, because I know that it didn’t matter what I bet because if I got it wrong, he was going to win anyway. All of my family and friends told me that they were glad I went all in.”

Although Philipose did not leave “Jeopardy!” a winner in the traditional sense, he is victorious in other ways.

During the show’s interview portion, Philipose discussed the time where he signed up for the bone marrow registry, and eventually donated bone marrow to a child who was dying.

“I was a copycat. My brother joined the registry first. We were told there were not enough or a lot of people of color on the bone marrow registry,” he said on “Jeopardy!”

“A few years passed, and we both got matched to children that we did not know and we were able to donate and help them out. I would recommend anybody join the registry because it’s a really easy way to save a life.”

The show’s guest host, Mayim Bialik, described his good deed as “unbelievable,” and the moment earned him a round of applause from the studio audience.

Philipose said that the interview portion of the show is the part he was most excited about.

“Regardless of what happened, I was at least able to get the word out about a really easy way to save people’s lives. The champion, Ryan, actually tweeted out some stuff about the bone marrow registry and gave me a shoutout, and that’s getting a lot of attention in a nice way like I was hoping for,” Philipose said.

When he’s not educating college students or starring on quiz shows, Philipose enjoys hanging out at all the staples in the neighborhood such as Nick’s Pizza, Forest Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and Forest Hills Gardens.

“The diversity is what I love most about Queens. Here we have real people. We hear 50 different languages every time we walk on a sidewalk … I feel comfortable and at home in a place like that,” he said. “They call it the ‘World’s Borough’ for a reason, and it’s got everything I’m looking for.”

Four local scouts earn Eagle rank

Four young men from Troop 45 of Woodside have recently joined the four percent of Boy Scouts in the U.S. to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.

Massimo Accardo, Eamonn Dobey, Aidan Haran, and Oisin Haran — all natives of Maspeth and Middle Village — have climbed the necessary ranks throughout their scouting careers to achieve this ranking.

Prior to planning their Eagle Scout projects, all of which serve local communities, they earned six rank advancements and a minimum of 21 merit badges.

The scouts were also responsible for finding, planning, and coordinating the entirety of their projects, as well as raising funds and purchasing all supplies needed.

Accardo and the troop worked to revamp some dilapidated conditions in Forest Park, Queens.

 

Accardo and Dobey devoted their projects to the upkeep and preservation of Forest Park.

Accardo, who’s been involved with the Boy Scouts for 12 years, got the idea for his project by reaching out to NYC Councilman Robert Holden, who referred him to Joseph Block, who is responsible for managing and overseeing the operations, inspections, and maintenance of Forest Park.

During a tour of the park, Accardo decided to work on an overpass on Myrtle Avenue which cuts through the park that hadn’t had any work done on it for nearly 10 years.

“If you look at my before pictures, there was foundation exposed, a lot of mold and rusting, and concrete that was crumbling. There was also a lot of dirt on the sides of the manmade trails that were not safe and very steep,” he said. “So our plan was to resurface the surface itself.”

 

Accardo and other members of the troop took ample time to scrape off old paint and mold, test for lead, and repaint the surface of the overpass.

They also added cribbing to the neighboring man made walking trail, which involves wooden planks embedded in the ground to use as steps for safer navigation.

Accardo said that this was the troop’s first project during the pandemic, which caused a lot of challenges, including mask mandates and social distancing. However, he is proud of the end result.

“We decided to resurface the entire wall itself, so both sides of the overpass had contrasting colors,” he explained.

“It made it not just look like a project, but like a detailed job, which is what I’m really proud of because it looked professional.”

Dobey took inspiration for his project in a similar fashion, and decided to restore a dilapidated trail in Forest Park.

He said that the path was hazardous for park goers, and was full of potholes, cracks, raised concrete, overgrown thorn bushes, and litter.

He added that the steps that lead to the trail were completely unsafe, with missing parts and slabs that had come off the foundation.

“We repaved all the slabs and filled in the cracks by recementing the whole thing,” he said. “For the trail, we cut back the overgrown bush, shoveled out the soil and added wood chips and mulch, and picked up the garbage that made it unusable.”

Dobey takes pride in the finished product, and said that the project aligns with the overall mission of the Boy Scouts because it focused on cleaning up the community and making it a pleasant place for people to enjoy.

Haran dedicated his project to making repairs to St. Mel’s in Flushing.

Oisin Haran also kept his project local by helping St. Mel’s Catholic Academy in Flushing prepare for the school year.

“The project was to repaint the outside fence into the playground, paint the vents on the lockers inside the classrooms, build a new wooden fence to surround the garbage area, and modify the iron railing leading down to the basement to make it safer for children,” he said.

He explained that the outside gate was rusted and needed to be repainted, as well as the bike racks that were damaged by being hit by a car at one point.

He feared that the schoolchildren could get injured as a result of these conditions, which is what inspired him to take on the project.

Haran feels immense gratitude for his fellow scouts and troop leaders including Scoutmaster TJ Kerins, COR Fred Coltrinari, and Anthony Chorzepa, who is a retired carpenter.

His twin brother, Aidan Haran, ventured out into Bonitas Youth Service in the East Village for his project, which he completed in November 2021.

Bonitas Youth Services is a student hostel that houses young people from around the world, and Haran discovered that its backyard needed intense restoration.

“The yard was all old bluestone set in dirt, which was uneven. There was also a lot of garbage that needed to be cleaned up,” he said.

“The project included digging up the old backyard, putting in poppies and a drywall for drainage, making raised flower beds, and leveling the backyard to place new patio blocks that made it safe to walk on and suitable to hold events,” he continued.

In fact, the new patio blocks that were put into the yard came via a job in the city, from Martha Stewart’s roof.

Haran made extensive renovations to the backyard of Bonitas Youth Service, which houses young people from all over the world.

To honor the heritage of Father Patrick Moloney, an Irish priest who resides there, Haran arranged for the patio blocks to be engraved with symbols like St. Brigid’s Cross and the ichthys symbol.

To honor their hard work, the four scouts will be recognized during their Eagle Court of Honor on June 17.

Accardo is excited to finally partake in his ceremony, and says that they are “long overdue” as a result of delays from the pandemic.

“An Eagle is made through their actions in their leadership, depending on what they can do to a group and with a group. As for accomplishing it itself, a big part of it is attributed to the leaders,” he said.

“They put in a lot of time, effort, and volunteer hours, and they’ve been like parents to us. They’ve had to deal with a lot of crap from kids who are just stubborn a lot of time, and it takes a lot of patience,” he continued. “So a big part of it is to respect those who have done so much for us.”

Forest Hills Parade returns

People filled the street along Metropolitan Avenue on Sunday for the annual Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade. This year’s event was the community’s first in two years, due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Veterans, community groups, elected officials, and local residents gathered to honor and remember the soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and coast guard who died in service to their country.

Parade-goers with the Richmond Hill Historical Society get dressed up for the annual Memorial Day Parade in Forest HIlls

“The invasion of Ukraine by a tyrant is a stark reminder of why we need a strong national defense,” Michael Arcati, commander of American Legion Continental Post No. 1424 in Forest Hills, said. “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance and you see the eternal vigilance here today as the veterans of this American Legion, those of us still on active duty, and the Naval Sea Cadets who may one day raise their right hand and take the oath to defend this country.”

In an opening ceremony, The Legion Post recognized this year’s Grand Marshals, Patrick Conley, a U.S. army veteran who served from 1978 to 1981, and Timothy Ducey, a Glendale resident and community advocate who owns Acey Ducey’s and Tap House pubs in Forest Hills.

Also celebrated at the ceremony were NYPD Sergeant Christopher Fulgieri with the 2022 Forest Hills American Legion Law & Order Award, retired Engine 235 firefighter Lois Mungay with the 2022 Forest Hills American Legion First Responder Award, and Louie Suljovic, an Army veteran and hero who saved an elderly woman from a knife attack outside Louie’s Pizzeria and Restaurant on Baxter Ave. in Elmhurst.

Several local elected officials came out to show their support, including Congresswoman Grace Meng, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, New York State

Senator Joseph Addabbo, NYS Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, and Councilwoman Lynn Schulman.

Many of them took the time to remind the crowd the true meaning of the holiday.

“Memorial Day is not about barbecues, hamburgers, or beaches. It’s a dedicated day for honoring our military personnel who paid the ultimate sacrifice to afford us the freedoms we take for granted every day,” said Schulman, whose great aunt served in the Women’s Army Corps., uncle fought in WWII, and father was a soldier in the Korean War. “We also owe the Gold Star families our gratitude for their sacrifice, as it is never easy losing a loved one, and I hope they know their loss will never be forgotten.”

Rudy Markard, a Queens resident who served as a sailor in Vietnam from 1965 to 1966, has taken part in Memorial Day parades for several years.
He takes pride in showing off his rebuilt military Jeep and letting children interact with the vehicle.

“It takes me back 50 years when I had little kids, so it’s a connection with life. It’s just wonderful,” Markard said.

Long Island Jewish Forest Hills join in the Memorial Day Parade 2022

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz

The Richmond Hill Historical Society at the Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade 2022

The All-City High School Marching Band

Forest Hills-Rego Park CERT

FHYAA

Members of the community wave their flags and watch as the parade marches by.

Rudy Markard and a young resident share a bonding moment at the end of the parade.
(Photos By Jessica Meditz)

Jones Surgical Co. storefront gone but not forgotten

Eighty years, four sets of owners, and numerous generations of supporters later, Jones Surgical Co. has decided to close its doors.

The iconic, long-standing mom-and-pop shop has been a staple in Forest Hills and the rest of Queens, providing its customers with all of their medical supply needs.
Rita Lieberman, who co-owns the business with her husband Michael, said that the closure came as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as folks turning to online shopping.

“It became untenable during COVID for a variety of reasons,” Lieberman said. “Sometimes, people would call or come in, get as much information as they could, and order online. To be honest, we knew that it was coming down the pipes, it’s just that COVID sped up the process probably by five or more years. The price of rents, cost of goods, supply chain issues, and fighting Amazon and other big box stores made it come to a point where a little mom and pop couldn’t survive anymore.”

The interior of Jones Surgical Co.

Although residents can no longer admire the well-known green exterior on Metropolitan and Continental Avenues, the Liebermans are still operating Jones Surgical Co. on a wholesale basis to its established clients.

Lieberman acknowledged that the closure of Jones Surgical Co. has left a void in the community and even the borough, which prompted many residents to reach out.

Michael Perlman, a fifth generation Forest Hills resident, preservationist, and columnist with The Forest Hills Times was one of them.
Upon hearing about the closing of Jones Surgical Co., Perlman submitted a detailed proposal to the Liebermans, suggesting ways to preserve the shop’s exterior—which they agreed to.

“Certain community residents brought it to my attention, and people expressed interest in seeing the signage and other features preserved,” Perlman said. “Immediately, I felt like I was a man on a mission.”

In April, Perlman met with the Liebermans along with the co-founder of Noble Signs/NY Sign Museum, David Barnett, who would facilitate the preservation.
Perlman said it was important to get Jones Surgical Co. preserved because, much like the other mom-and-pops in the neighborhood—Eddie’s Sweet Shop, Knish Knosh, and Aigner Chocolates—Jones provided residents with an “extended family” and a story to tell.

“My goal is to preserve as many architecturally and culturally significant sights as possible, anything beautiful that has a story to tell. It’s a shame how many community cornerstones are closing nowadays, especially, and how many historical and picturesque buildings are being demolished or essentially altered,” he said.

“They build community, and it’s very important to take every measure possible to help and hopefully preserve and support mom-and-pop style businesses. It grants soul to our communities.”

He admired the mid-century ambience the location had to offer, with the indoor tin ceilings and art deco style exterior.

In fact, the bottom portion of the storefront’s columns had the manufacturer’s name on them, Jason Store Fronts, as well as the vintage telephone number.
Perlman has also sought out to preserve other Forest Hills community staples, including Tower Diner, which has already been demolished, and Trylon Theater/Ohr Natan Synagogue.

“I didn’t want to see another prime example of commercial archaeology ending up in the dumpster,” he said.

“From an artistic perspective and historical perspective, these things enrich us. Our history is irreplaceable, and we should feel inspired and take pride in our heritage.”
Barnett and his team executed the preservation of the shop’s exterior, and it is currently being worked on inside Noble Signs’ studio in East New York, Brooklyn.

The New York Sign Museum hopes to have a dedicated space and be open to the public by the end of 2022, but the studio space where the sign sits now is open to appointments for interested community members.

“I love the fact that the sign is preserved. I hope to be able to one day visit it and all the other things being preserved when that comes to fruition,” Lieberman said. “I look forward to taking my grandchildren to see it.”

Perlman is thankful that the signage and columns were able to be preserved, but he misses the actual business.

“I’m very determined to help the New York Sign Museum find a more permanent spot where so many more people can benefit simultaneously,” he said. “Our community and city is rich in history and architecture, and I’m tired of seeing these sites undergoing demolition and alterations.”

Hardworking food delivery worker fatally shot

The Forest Hills community mourns the loss of Zhiwen Yan, a food delivery worker at Great Wall Chinese Restaurant, who is remembered by locals for his warm greetings of “Hello, my friend.”

Yan, who lived in Middle Village, was fatally shot on April 30 around 9:30 p.m. while riding his scooter on his way to deliver food at the intersection of 108th St. and 67th Dr. in Forest Hills.

The husband and father of three endured a gunshot wound to the chest which caused him to fall off his scooter.

EMS responded and transported Yan to NYC Health and Hospitals/Elmhurst where he was pronounced dead.

It is uncertain why he was not brought to Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, which is only three blocks away from where he was killed.

At the time of publication, no arrests were made in this case and the investigation remains ongoing.

Zhiwen Yan and his wife on their wedding day.

Police say the current suspect is a 50-year-old customer who previously had issues with the restaurant staff because they once did not give him enough duck sauce.

He allegedly menaced Kai Yang, the restaurant’s owner, with a gun and vandalized his vehicle.

CBS New York reports that Yang gave the description of the customer’s car, a Lexus RX3 SUV, which matches the description of a car seen fleeing the murder scene.

Concerns in Forest Hills continue to rise as this is the second fatal crime to a neighbor that residents have seen in the community in recent weeks, following the murder of Orsolya Gaal.

Local elected officials and residents gathered with Yan’s family outside of their Middle Village home to mourn the community’s loss.

“This is a terrible and horrific tragedy and my heart aches for the victim’s loved ones. This delivery worker was working hard, trying to earn a living to support his family when he was senselessly shot and killed,” Congresswoman Grace Meng said in a statement.

“The incident underscores the need to combat gun violence throughout our city, and I am confident that the perpetrator will be apprehended.

The person responsible must face justice,” she continued. “My office will remain in touch with the 112th Precinct, and I will continue to be there for the family to provide any assistance they need.”

Two GoFundMe fundraisers have been widely shared in support of Yan’s wife and three children — one by a local resident named Frances

Kweller, and another by his wife, Eva Chao. To date, the two digital fundraisers raised a total of over $260,000.
No arrests have been made in this case, and the investigation remains ongoing.

Orsolya Gaal’s alleged murderer confesses to crime

If convicted, Bonola faces up to 25 years-to-life in prison.

David Bonola, 44, of Richmond Hill is facing murder charges in the case of Orsolya Gaal, a 51-year-old mother of two from Forest Hills.

The body was discovered when a passerby noticed a suspicious bag located nearby Forest Park, was covered in blood. They immediately called 911 to notify the police. Upon their arrival, they discovered Gaal’s mutilated body was stuffed inside.   

According to ABC Eyewitness News, the victim had last been seen at the Forest Hills Station House the night before she was discovered in the park. The bar staff said that Gaal was a regular customer and that her recent visit was nothing out of the ordinary. 

It was shortly after Gaal returned to her home on Juno Street that Bonola entered the house. It is believed, based on several published reports, that Bonola knew of a spare key to the residence and had previously done work on the home. 

He and Gaal got into a verbal altercation in the basement of the house, which soon escalated to the point where Bonola allegedly slit her throat and stabbed her 58 times in the neck, torso and arm. 

According to Chief of Detectives James Essig, the pair had an on-again, off-again relationship in the past, and were romantically involved prior to the attack. Both Bonola and Gaal are married, but carried out an affair for the last two years. 

Video surveillance footage taken the night of the incident revealed that the defendant then dragged the duffel bag through the neighborhood up to Metropolitan Avenue and Union Turnpike, where she was found, leaving behind a trail of blood. 

Bonola confessed to the crimes after voluntarily returning to the precinct, eventually surrendering to police, who were led to find additional evidence including a knife, a jacket, boots, and a t-shirt which they believe he was wearing at the time of the murder. 

Essig said that there are no additional suspects in connection to the case at this time. 

Police also indicated that Gaal’s husband and one of her two sons were out of town visiting colleges on the West Coast, when her body was found. Her other son was asleep on the top floor of the house when the incident occured. 

Following the brutal attack, her husband received threatening texts from his wife’s phone, which Bonola later told police had been sent in an effort to take suspicion away from himself. 

Gaal previously made a post to a local Facebook group sharing concerns about increased crime in the area.

Gaal, who was active on social media, was a member of the Facebook group “Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens – ‘Our Communities’” which is dedicated to the central Queens area where the incident took place. 

Eerily enough, in 2020, Gaal made a post sharing concerns for her safety in the community, and the measures she had taken to protect herself.

“Given the recent attack on a woman in Forest Park and the general uptick of crime and seedy characters in the neighborhood, I sought info here to get mace/pepper spray for my runs in the park,” Gaal wrote in the post.

Bonola was arraigned on Thursday night before Queens Criminal Court Judge Anthony M. Battisti on second degree murder charges, along with tampering with physical evidence, and criminal possession of a weapon. 

“Two boys are left without a mother and a young teenager faces the added trauma of being home when this heinous murder took place,” District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement about the case. “The defendant is now in custody and will be held to account for this horrific crime.” If convicted, he could potentially face up to 25 years-to-life in prison. 

Bonola has at least one prior arrest from back in 2013, according to NBC 4 News, but police have stated that it has no bearing on their investigation.

Forest Hills mom found dead in bloody duffel bag, stabbed nearly 60 times

A 51-year-old mother of two from Forest Hills was found deceased in a bloody duffel bag at the corner of Metropolitan Avenue and Jackie Robinson Parkway in Forest Park.

Orsolya Gaal was pronounced dead at the scene on Saturday, April 16, after the NYPD responded to 911 calls of a “suspicious bag with blood on it.”
Officers say that the trail of blood was followed to 72-24 Juno Street, where Gaal lived with her husband and two sons.

Gaal’s husband, Howard Klein, and their oldest son were out of town when she was killed.

Gaal reportedly told the youngest son, 13, that she would go out to see a show on Friday night, but at some point she met up with a man who police believe she knew.

It is believed that the man killed Gaal in the basement of her home, and dragged her body multiple blocks to the location in which she was discovered.

Surveillance footage revealed an individual appearing to drag a duffel bag through the streets of the quiet neighborhood.

Gaal’s 13-year-old son was brought in for questioning by the NYPD, but was later released.

PIX11 reports that police sources said that Klein received a text message from the man believed to have murdered Gaal.

The haunting messages allegedly read “Your wife sent me to jail some years ago. I’m back,” and “Your whole family is next.”

Gaal’s autopsy revealed that she was stabbed nearly 60 times in her neck, left arm and torso.

At the time of publication, no arrests have been made and the investigation remains ongoing.

The Tea Garden Restoration Committee At Work

By Michael Perlman

mpearlman@queensledger.com

Since last fall, the Tea Garden, nestled behind an ornate gate bearing Forest Hills Gardens’ logo on Greenway Terrace, and accessible through Jade Eatery’s party room, has been subject to a series of fundraising history tours, led by this columnist.

Over a week ago, the Tea Garden Restoration Committee, comprised of industry professionals including an architect and designers, local residents, and Jade owner Kumar, toured this long-forgotten treasure, where architectural and landscaping features meriting restoration and replication were pinpointed.

Step back to May 1912The iconic Tudor-style Forest Hills Inn once featured several elegant social spaces including a Tea Garden designed by Forest Hills Gardens principal architect Grosvenor Atterbury, in partnership with the prominent landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. An August 1923 ad read, “an excellently appointed American Plan Hotel, catering to a discriminating transient and permanent clientele.”

It also referenced “exquisite cuisine, most attractive rates, dining room accommodations for motorists, and afternoon tea in the English Tea Garden.”

The Windsor Room, which was the inn’s main dining area, is today known as Jade Eatery, and the Tea Room which overlooked the Tea Garden, would later become the Terrace Room, adorned with murals for private dining, prior to becoming a commercial space.

Since October, a fundraiser has been underway, where the community is purchasing diverse high-quality jigsaw puzzles, donated by Ronald Gentile followed by Julie Marie, and continue to be available at $25. This will finance small yet very meaningful restoration projects, to enable the community to participate as visionaries. One such project is the replication of an 11-foot moderately ornate “Ring For Tea” stand, complete with an antique bell and cord, and a hand-painted sign bearing a teacup logo to be produced by Noble Signs. The stand is already in production by Flushing Iron Weld and principal Nelson Santander, after this columnist discovered a postcard depicting rocking chairs in front of the stand. Committee member Bea Hunt drafted the initial blueprint by applying her engineering skills.

Nature caused the monumental trees to flourish and produce a natural Gothic archway, but cast a toll on decorative features. The cascading fountain and pool amidst an arched wall that featured iguana sculptures high above have vanished. Turtles once swam below, and rocks and colorful rhododendrons were alongside the perimeters. The “Ring For Tea” stand and rocking chairs were replaced with tables and umbrellas but also vanished. Later additions include a no longer operational tiered central brick fountain and cracked flagstone and a rusty pergola. The original series of graceful pergolas featured colorful floral planting areas. However, after moments of exploration, the magic of what was and could be resurrected becomes evident.

In 1967, the Forest Hills Inn underwent conversion into apartments and is a co-op since the 1980s. In 1977, the U.S. Open relocated from the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium to Flushing Meadows, and with the change of inn’s occupancy and fewer celebrities, the Tea Garden was gradually forgotten.

The Tea Garden occasionally became the town center for community-wide events, such as a stop for the annual 4th of July Festival. In 1915, a local publication read, “Ice cream and cake was served all the children in the Tea Garden, and in the evening a pre-Revolutionary pageant was followed by dancing in the Station Square to the music of the 7th Regiment Band.”

Dogs even felt at home in the Tea Garden, such as on a Saturday afternoon fete for Boston Terriers. In July 1915, The New York Sun stated, “It will be in the nature of a classified match for trophies and ribbons, with Vinton Breese as a judge. The unclassified specials are the judge’s cup, for best bred by exhibitor; Inn cup, for best in the show; Cord Meyer cup, for best of the opposite sex to Inn cup winner, and trophies from Mrs. A.S. Whitesell for the best local dog and the best dog from NYC.” There were over 100 entries, with a very large crowd of spectators.

“The Gardens Chapter of the Women’s Club of Forest Hills Gardens is to hold a flower show at the Forest Hills Tea Garden, Wednesday, June 21,” read another early 20th century article. Some proceeds benefited the $500 playground fund. Another special event was a Strawberry Festival held by the St. Luke’s Women’s Guild on June 10, 1922, from 2 to 6 PM. Homemade ice cream was served with strawberries, as well as lemonade, and garden hats were sold. The Tea Garden also hosted early productions by The Garden Players, such as “Prunella” in 1921, prioritizing its natural setting. Another was Rostand’s “The Romancers” on June 9, 1916, at 8:15 PM for $1.

The July 12, 1924 edition of The Forest Hills Bulletin read, “The Tea Garden of the Forest Hills Inn is a veritable fairyland when lighted with Japanese lanterns, with the trickling fountain heard in the background, and a new moon shining overhead. There is no more delightful place in Greater New York for one to spend the dinner hour.” Every evening during the warmer months between 6:30 and 9 PM, a delectable dinner was served, to the music of the Inn Trio, featuring selections such as Dvorak’s “Humoresque,” Nevin’s “A Day in Venice,” Godard’s “Canzonetta,” and Albeniz’s “A Night In Seville.” On September 19, 1924, the Forest Hills Choral Club held a reception and dance in honor of its new conductor, Alfred Boyce.

“The Enchanted Gardens – Coolest and most delightful spot on Long Island” read a 1924 ad featuring couples in elegant attire, dining with tablecloths and dancing under a forested scene. At the time, M. Lawrence Meade was the Forest Hills Inn general manager. Special buffet lunches were served from 12 to 2:30 during tournaments, as the inn had its own tennis courts, accessible through a long-gone landscaped arched entryway from the Tea Garden, predating the Forest Hills Inn Apartments annex at 20 Continental Avenue. The inn was open for dinner daily, and dancing was held on Wednesday and Saturday evenings with no cover charge.

In a circa mid-1950s brochure, the Tea Garden was referred to as the Patio-Garden, and its glory continued. It offered “a bubbling fountain, candlelight, large umbrellas, and tall trees” with “violin strings in the spring and summer.”

The Tea Garden was the center stage for ceremonial events. The wedding reception of Luicina Gaiser’s parents, Frederic Harry Gaiser III and Julianne McCaffrey, was held on August 31, 1963, in the Tea Garden and former Garden Room of the Forest Hills Inn. A memoir read, “Were led down the walk about a block to the Garden, where there was an orchestra and tables and trees, and waiters serving tidbits and drinks. Stayed there for about an hour and a half. Fun prevailed. Pictures of wedding party and parents taken.” Luicina reflected, “As a child and to date, it was a lost garden or dreamland. There is a quiet peace that breathes life in this garden, that can’t be stifled by having been forgotten.”

For Eve Galvez, Forest Hills has always been a place that she could call home, and now her wish came true. She feels fortunate for the Tea Garden, a distinctive destination that could once again become a community asset. She said, “The Tea Garden is a beautiful space that has been abandoned for so long, but was once a place that created lasting memories. Our goal is to bring that to the present day with the help of industry professionals and residents. I am excited for this project, and hope to help in any way that I can.”

Francesca Victoria feels it is a stereotype that New Yorkers are always looking towards the future in favor of glass skyscrapers. She explained, “I believe that most are interested in preserving the past, and especially beautiful landscapes within their communities. Seeing so many people come together to stand up for a local landmark, and speak out not just for its preservation, but for its continued use for the community, gives hope for Forest Hills’ future. Most people are familiar with Station Square and the Forest Hills Inn, and I’m sure that most people have peeked behind that gate at least once or twice and wondered what it was and if it has any current use.” She ponders as to how it was once so well-known but is now much forgotten among inhabitants. “I hope this campaign will not only preserve the Tea Garden but spread historical awareness.”

Fill the Form for Events, Advertisement or Business Listing