Since 39-year-old mother-of-three Tanya Rush’s body was found brutally dismembered and packed into a suitcase along the Southern State Parkway six years ago, State police investigators have handed out thousands of fliers and meticulously scrutinized her past.
“We did not get one phone call,” Investigator Michael O’Sullivan of the Major Crimes unit told the Press in a phone interview.
He’s hoping this latest appeal to the public is different.
In fact, when O’Sullivan returned this reporter’s phone call he mistakenly believed it was someone with information. He was excited. When informed it was a journalist seeking information about this baffling cold case, his enthusiasm didn’t fade away, however. He wants to catch the person who viciously murdered Rush.
Rush, who worked as a prostitute, lived at 345 Livonia Avenue in Brooklyn before she disappeared.
She was last seen on surveillance cameras walking out of the back entrance of her building with two other people—a male and female—whose identities remain a mystery. The pair, however, went their separate ways, and investigators don’t consider them suspects.
“It’s probably the most difficult case that law enforcement can work,” O’Sullivan said of cold cases. “We have a victim here who lived a high-risk lifestyle.
“She pretty much disappeared,” he said.
Rush’s remains were discovered on the shoulder of the entrance ramp for Newbridge Road on the Southern State Parkway on June 27, 2008. Her dismembered remains were found inside a suitcase placed on the edge of a grassy line.
“Whoever put her there didn’t make a great effort to hide her,” O’Sullivan said. Had they dragged her into a wooded area, he said, police might never have discovered the suitcase.
Exactly where Rush was killed also remains a mystery.
“All we have is the crime scene where we found her,” O’Sullivan said.
Investigators have devoted hundreds of hours to the case, but they have yet to receive that all-important tip that could breathe new life into the six-year-old case.
“Either the community has absolutely no interest…or she disappeared and nobody knows,” O’Sullivan said.
When asked if the recent arrest of a 48-year-old Manorville man for the alleged murders of two women in 1993 and 1994 gives him hope, O’Sullivan demurred.
“It’s frustrating,” he admitted.
But O’Sullivan hasn’t given up. He is in constant contact with local authorities and speaks with police across the nation if an eerily similar cases arises, like it did in Wisconsin.
He said he recently spoke with a deputy sheriff there who arrested a former city cop who allegedly killed two girls, stuffed their remains in a suitcase and dumped them along a highway.
“You’d be surprised how often it happens,” he said.
Solving the case for Rush’s three children and family keeps O’Sullivan going.
“I don’t like the word closure,” he said. “I would like to give them justice.”
New York State Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Tanya Rush’s death.
Anyone with pertinent information is asked to call the NYS Crime Stoppers hot line at 1-866-313- TIPS (8477) or the New York State Police Troop L Headquarters at 631-756-3300, which is completely anonymous, or to go the NYS Crime Stoppers web site http://www.nyscrimestoppers.org and use the links to download the New York State Crime Stoppers Mobile App to their iPhone, Android or Blackberry and provide information directly from their phone. Through the app, people can call the hotline direct or send an email tip or photo tip. Information provided through the app is encrypted as well as anonymous and the source phone is untraceable. Both the hot line number and the New York State Crime Stoppers app can receive tips in English and Spanish.