Tension High At Water Treatment Plant Where Chemist Geetha Angara Was Murdered
The Passaic County prosecutor's office is still probing the Feb. 8 murder of senior chemist Geetha Angara, 43 — whose assaulted body was found at the bottom of a 35-foot water tank — at a Totowa, N.J., water plant.
Angara may have been incapacitated by the attack, according to Passaic County Prosecutor James Avigliano, though he did not offer details on the nature of the attack. Before dying in the icy waters, her killer assaulted her with his bare hands, leaving marks on her body, said the prosecutor, who would not elaborate.
“We do not believe a weapon was used. We believe it was a confrontation that turned physical, and possibly the individual panicked at that point in time and the murder ensued," Avigliano said.
Authorities believe the assailant opened one of two 50-pound steel panels set in the concrete floor above the one-million-gallon tank and shoved Angara through while she was still breathing.
Investigators have narrowed the list of suspects to three male co-workers all, like Angara, professionals, sources said "This was not a maintenance-type person.”. Several plant employees were grilled two or three times — included two lab workers who worked under Angara and a "high-ranking supervisor," a plant insider said
"Based on the interviews and based on the time frame, these are people who did not have a good alibi as to where they were when she was killed, or they have, in multiple interviews, said different things as to where they were," investigators said.
Investigators have yet to disclose a motive for the killing. One theory is that professional jealousy or a workplace argument was to blame, but Avigliano said no evidence had been uncovered to support that conclusion.
As the probe continues, tensions at the plant have risen to the point where one employee was suspended for threatening to "smash the head" of a co-worker. The incident occurred as the investigation dragged into its sixth week.
Dominick Gallone, an electrician at the Passaic Valley Water Commission plant, told another electrician in a dispute about overtime on March 10 that "he should take him off the grounds and smash his head in," Totowa police said. The threatened employee complained to bosses, who suspended Gallone. Co-workers did not file criminal complaints, and Gallone was not arrested..