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Oct 8, 2014 5:58 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Woman Found Dead In East Hampton Had Difficult Life, Family Says

Oct 14, 2014 4:03 PM

While the death of a young Ecuadorian woman in East Hampton in late September has left her family and some in her community with unanswered questions, it is clear that Andrea Gabriella Armijos’s journey to America was filled with hardship.

Ms. Armijos, 21—whose body was found on September 28 in the Springs woods, near the Bistrian sand pit, apparently after she hanged herself from a tree with her own sweater—had left her native country of Ecuador in June to come to East Hampton, according to her sister Alexandra Pucha during an interview on Wednesday, October 8, at Jazmin Hair Salon in East Hampton, Ms. Pucha’s place of work.

Ms. Pucha explained that Ms. Armijos left behind five other siblings to come to America to work and be with her sister, and the two had plans to travel back to Ecuador together in late December. She was also seeking asylum in America, according to Ms. Pucha, after escaping an abusive relationship with her father as a child.

Ms. Armijos, attempting to enter the country illegally in June, was detained in Texas for two months, Ms. Pucha said through a translator. She said that her sister had a very difficult time during the detention and it affected her emotionally. Ms. Pucha and her husband, Manuel Pucha, paid $10,000 to release her from detention, and Ms. Armijos arrived in East Hampton in late August.

When she first arrived in America, Ms. Armijos didn’t have many friends, was unhappy and missed her home, said Mr. Pucha, adding that she began working at Jazmin Hair Salon and seemingly became more comfortable.

On the Wednesday prior to her death, Ms. Armijos had come home late from work with dirt on her, said Ms. Pucha. Ms. Armijos told her sister she’d gotten lost in the woods between Springs-Fireplace Road and Three Mile Harbor Road, and Ms. Pucha said that she assumed that the dirt on Ms. Armijos had been from her walk in the woods.

However, Mr. Pucha was concerned, and he contacted East Hampton Town Police, who came to his home to check on Ms. Armijos’s well-being, he said. The police conducted an interview, asking Ms. Armijos, with Mr. Pucha translating, if she was all right. Ms. Armijos told police she was okay, and the officers left. According to Mr. Pucha, Ms. Armijos never did not say how she ended up with dirt on her clothes.

The following day, Mr. Pucha asked Ms. Armijos to show him where she’d gotten lost on her way home. The two walked through the patch of trees, behind Bistrian’s sand mine—which is how Mr. Pucha said he knew where to look for Ms. Armijos on the morning she was found dead there.

On September 26, two days before Ms. Armijos’s body was found in the woods near where she’d gotten lost days before, she had been at home with her family watching TV. Ms. Armijos and Mr. and Ms. Pucha had been lying on the floor together with the Pucha’s young children, watching soap operas and the news, Ms. Pucha recalled. When she and her husband went to bed, Ms. Pucha said goodnight to Ms. Armijos, who responded with, “I’m going to be here,” Ms. Pucha said.

On September 27, Ms. Pucha said Ms. Armijos left early in the morning, and by 3 p.m. the family became worried that she hadn’t returned home. After searching the nearby woods, where Ms. Armijos said she’d gotten lost a few days earlier, Ms. Pucha called the police.

The woods behind Bistrian’s pit is dangerous, according to hair salon owner Jasmin Leon. She said it is a gathering place for those looking to drink and do drugs, and sometimes people live there. It takes only a matter of minutes to travel down the well-worn paths to discover dozens of beer cans, liquor bottles, cigarette butts, broken lawn chairs, dirty clothes, and other garbage strewn about the area.

Mr. Pucha said he’d never known Ms. Armijos to take drugs.

“She didn’t know this area,” Ms. Leon said, cradling Ms. Pucha’s baby at the hair salon.

Early on the morning of September 28, Ms. Leon, her husband, Mr. Pucha, and his nephew Hector went out looking for Ms. Armijos, whose lifeless body was found with a sweatshirt around her neck as a makeshift noose, which was tied to a low-hanging tree branch. Her feet were touching the ground, with her knees flexed—as though she strangled herself by simply tying the sweater around the tree, and her neck, and sitting down.

The Puchas said they are unaware of any autopsy being performed. The Suffolk County medical examiner’s office could not provide any information on the case. However, East Hampton Town Police said that they are awaiting the results of an autopsy before they can cite an official cause of death.

Ms. Armijos’s body was flown back to Ecuador and buried last week. A previous story erroneously reported that Ms. Armijos’s body would be flown back to Queens from Ecuador.

Ms. Pucha said she is hopeful the police, who said they do not suspect foul play, will continue to investigate the death of her sister and keep a close eye on the wooded area between Three Mile Harbor and Springs-Fireplace Road. East Hampton Town Police said there is a death investigation under way but could not comment on the specifics.

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So maybe the cops need to investigate why the 'woods behind Bistrian's pit' is a gathering place to drink and do drugs. Just a thought.
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Oct 9, 14 11:00 AM
3 members liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By LovedHerTown (132), southampton on Oct 9, 14 1:37 PM
So, let me get this straight.. A woman sets out to kill herself, forgets the noose, and uses her own sweatshirt? AND to top it all off, no autopsy was done, and she's now being buried.
So, not only can you get away with a hit and run in this town, but apparently murder as well.

Murder doesn't sell houses, nor rentals.
By The Royal 'We' (199), Southampton on Oct 9, 14 2:53 PM
3 members liked this comment
Who did they pay $10k to?
By TheGoodLife (43), Westhampton Beach on Oct 9, 14 3:32 PM
You can pay 10 large to the Border Patrol to " get out of detention"? hmmmm
By GALAXIE (43), SAG HARBOR on Oct 9, 14 3:54 PM
Is it a lack of understanding on Mr. Pucha's behalf? I find it hard to believe that no autopsy was done.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Oct 9, 14 3:55 PM
OK, setting aside the questionable circumstances of her death and the possibility that a killer might get away with taking an innocent life, am I the only one to catch that she came to the US because "She was also seeking asylum in America, according to Ms. Pucha, after suffering from an abusive relationship with her father as a child.".

Huh? Since when does someone travel cross several countries and 1,500+ miles to escape a parent they should no longer be living with anyway. I'm sure ...more
By Funbeer (273), Southampton on Oct 10, 14 12:25 AM
2 members liked this comment
Too bad you are the minority in your thinking. I agree with you one MILLION percent but I ( along with like minded people ) am called a raceist .........
By Biba (566), East Hampton on Oct 10, 14 7:22 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By LovedHerTown (132), southampton on Oct 10, 14 1:38 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By LovedHerTown (132), southampton on Oct 10, 14 10:56 PM
Has anyone checked into the claim the Border Patrol or ICE lets people who are illegally in the country stay here for $10k? Because that sounds like pure blarney to me. I've known people picked up by ICE and .....buh bye. If you don't belong here, you get deported, no matter how long you've been here. . What's all this about paying what sounds like a 10k bribe to Border Patrol? Sounds like a job for an .....oh, I dunno. Investigative reporter?
By btdt (449), water mill on Oct 14, 14 9:12 PM
It's bail, just as in criminal court, meant to ensure the defendant attends court hearings.
By juliacmead (11), East Hampton on Oct 23, 14 1:02 PM
What ever happened to her , the worst is a young woman is dead. God have mercy on her.May she be at peace and with God.
By bayview (160), Southampton on Oct 16, 14 7:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
As usual selfish rednecks will always comment looking after their own merciless backs, instead of thinking how on earth did "they" not do an autopsy on such a criminal case?!? Where are the cop investigators in this town?
May she rest in peace.
By lizziebay (7), BH on Oct 18, 14 4:30 PM
So police interviewed her but they didn't understand what she was saying? Thorough. That's covering all the bases. Case closed.
By nazznazz (276), east hampton on Oct 23, 14 10:51 AM
Dear Funbeer and Biba:
Racism is usually the result of a general lack of education, and/or lack of cultural integration . Even if you really agree with hateful comments, you cannot have a million percent agreement because 'percent' means of one hundred. You identify as a racist (that's 'racist' spelled correctly without an 'e') so I've tried to use as few syllables as possible, as a consequence of my initial sentence. The story here is that a perfectly innocent person, going about her lawful ...more
By DieselEstate (2), Beverly Hills on Apr 23, 18 5:03 AM