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Man sentenced to 20 years to life in prison in teaching assistant's killing

Ryan Lindquist leaves Nassau County Police Headquarters in

Ryan Lindquist leaves Nassau County Police Headquarters in Mineola in June 2019. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Evan Grabelsky's killer showered, stole the teaching assistant's cellphone to delete a Facebook account with images of them together and saved the knife he used to stab him more than 150 times "as a souvenir" before calmly exiting the victim's Merrick home, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

"The defendant left the Grabelskys' home looking like a horror show," prosecutor Stefanie Palma said of Ryan Lindquist, who listened on a virtual link from Nassau’s jail during his sentencing as she described the murderous attack he unleashed on June 1, 2019.

Lindquist, 23, "almost completely exsanguinated" Grabelsky, 32, whose traumatic blood loss left a trail from his bedroom to the front door as he tried to escape, Palma also told acting State Supreme Court Justice Helene Gugerty.

"There was literally blood everywhere, on the floor, on the walls, on the ceiling. This was a violent, unrelenting attack on an innocent and defenseless human being," the prosecutor added.

Lindquist, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in March, offered an apology Wednesday before the judge sentenced him to 20 years to life in prison under terms of a plea bargain.

Police said previously the two men met on a dating app. But Grabelsky’s mother has said Lindquist and her son, who was gay, weren’t in a romantic relationship and only met twice in person — including on the night of the murder.

"I sincerely apologize to Evan’s family. I am deeply sorry and I accept full responsibility for my actions," Lindquist said Wednesday.

Authorities found no motive for the attack and Lindquist, who had worked in a costume store and had no prior criminal record, offered no explanation.

His attorney, Edward Sapone, said Wednesday that Lindquist took responsibility with a guilty plea that spared the need for a trial that could have prolonged the pain of both the victim’s family and his client's relatives.

It was Scott and Lori Grabelsky, Evan’s parents, who found the body of their son, a Great Neck North High School employee, on a stairway landing of their family’s home upon returning home from a party later that night.

Both parents spoke in Nassau County Court on Wednesday of the son they described as an intelligent, thoughtful and compassionate person who worked with severely autistic children. Grabelsky was six months away from earning the second master’s degree he was pursuing so he could become a special education teacher.

"I cannot even imagine how much my son suffered at the hands of this monster," Scott Grabelsky said, calling his son’s death "an execution" and declaring that Lindquist deserved the death penalty.

The father also remembered his son's "gift for helping children," and besides working at the high school, how he had been a summer camp director — at Camp Iconic in North Bellmore — for five years.

Scott Grabelsky also recalled his son’s more than 100-pound weight loss and transformation to a healthy lifestyle. It sparked Evan Grabelsky to rise at 5:30 a.m. in the mornings to use a treadmill, prepare nutritional meals and share his journey in both a Newsday feature story and on social media with more than 5,000 Instagram followers.

"I ask that you accept no regrets from this killer," the father also told the judge. " … He is nothing but a stain on humanity."

Lori Grabelsky said Wednesday that the image of her son’s bloody body haunted her and she tearfully shared that she often imagined how much he suffered in the last minutes of his life.

"He was the epitome of goodness and decency," the victim’s mother said of her son.

She saved her last words for his killer.

"This animal," Lori Grabelsky said, "is the epitome of evil and he must pay for what he did."

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