Mom, best friend testify in murder trial
A Medford woman's last hours before she disappeared more than three years ago were happy and fun, spent partying with friends, her mother and best friend testified Tuesday in state Supreme Court in Riverhead.
"She was beautiful," said Barbara Ross, the mother of Rebecca Koster, 24. "She was perfect."
She and Koster's best friend, Nicole Longo, said Koster bought some marijuana early on Dec. 3, 2009, and went out to bars in Patchogue and Holbrook that night.
Suffolk prosecutors say she met Evans Ganthier, 33, of Port Jefferson Station, at the second bar that night. They say he stabbed her to death early on Dec. 4, took her body to Connecticut, mutilated it and set it on fire. He is charged with second-degree murder.
The days after Koster failed to show up for work on Dec. 4 were punctuated by confusion and terror, particularly two days later when Koster's mother got two unnerving text messages from her daughter's phone.
The first one referred to her boyfriend at the time.
"Mom Dan has me tied up in basement he thinks im messing with someone else not sure where im at maybe commack he doesnt know i have my phone please help," said the first one.
Ross and Longo testified they and a bunch of friends raced to the boyfriend's home with police. "It was just a whole herd of us," Ross said.
But police found she wasn't there. Hours later, another text came. It said: "My phone is about to die and my mouth is taped cant talk and dont tell Dan he will kill me i think this is commack."
This time, Ross said her husband and Koster's stepfather, Larry Ross, checked the phone's location on their computer. It showed it was in Hauppauge. Again, they raced there with police, and again, she was not there. By then, her body had been found but not identified in North Stonington, Conn.
Longo and Ross said that Koster had recently recovered from a brief addiction to OxyContin after a back injury. She smoked marijuana daily and liked to go out with friends, but held a part-time job caring for a disabled child.
Longo said the night began with them drinking and smoking in Koster's garage. Then they went to Kelly's, a Patchogue bar, until 1:30 a.m. Longo said she went home while everyone else, including Koster and her boyfriend Dan Mayor, continued on to Butcher Boy's in Holbrook.
Jurors and Justice Richard Ambro watched video from the bar's security system showing Koster at the bar. At about 2:30 a.m., a man resembling Ganthier waved her over and both appear to enter information into their phones while talking. The video shows her having two or three drinks there.
About an hour after she returned home at 3:30 a.m., she received a call from a number that Ross said was unfamiliar, which prosecutors say belonged to Ganthier.
Other than the text messages two days later, it was the last activity on her phone.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated who contacted whom after Ganthier and Koster met at a bar.