A woman murdered more than 30 years ago on Staten Island in a case that baffled detectives for decades was publicly identified Tuesday as a New Jersey mother whose daughter was 2 at the time of her death.
Using advanced forensic genealogy that was unavailable for years after the victim’s death, prosecutors said it was Christine Belusko, of Morris County, New Jersey, who was beaten, strangled and burned before her body was disposed of at the Ocean Breeze neighborhood on September 20. 1991.
Police were unable to identify her through traditional methods such as fingerprints or police sketches. As a result, Belusko became known for a scorpion tattoo on her right buttock.
A weapon found at the scene, a hammer smeared with blood and the name “Loyd L” scratched on the handle, also did not lead to any suspects.
But the advancement of forensic genealogy over the years led local authorities to submit his dental and DNA records to the FBI in 2010. Eleven years later, in April 2021, genealogy investigators discovered Belusko’s identity.
“This is a story about a brutal and depraved murder, depraved acts of violence that killed this young woman in her prime,” Staten Island District Attorney Michael E. McMahon said at a news conference.
“And the dumping of his body in a lonely, desolate field on the east shore of Staten Island exactly 31 1/2 years ago.”
How does it happen
Get updates on the coronavirus pandemic and other news as it happens with our free breaking news email alerts.
McMahon said the breakthrough also gave investigators several other clues: Belusko’s last known address, the identity of his daughter and Belusko’s whereabouts during the time leading up to his death.
Authorities contacted Belusko’s family members, including his brother, in June 2021.
Investigators are also calling on the public to help them contact the victim’s daughter, Krista Nicole Belusko, who is now 33 years old.
Although the identity of Belusko’s killer remains a mystery, McMahon said it is likely she was killed by someone who knew her.
“Given the facts of the case and what occurred and how she was killed, it doesn’t seem random,” McMahon said.
“It was someone who knew her, it’s an intimate type of murder.”
He refused to say what she was doing on Staten Island the day she was killed.