A police car guards crime scene at entrance to Manorville...

A police car guards crime scene at entrance to Manorville Hills County Park on Route 111 in Manorville. (March 22, 2012) Credit: James Carbone

The woman who apparently died of a drug overdose and whose body was dumped in a Manorville park was trying to stay clean and see more of her children, a friend said Saturday.

The friend, Brian Pacifico of Smithtown, said Pura Simancas, 45, had managed to stay off drugs for a while before the fatal overdose last month.

"She loved those kids. She was trying to get an apartment to get her kids back and straighten out her life," he said.

Simancas' body was found by a jogger last week in a wooded area off County Road 111 south of the Long Island Expressway, Suffolk police said.

Police said Simancas' boyfriend, Matthew A. Kraus, 34, of St. James, admitted to dumping her body in Manorville Hills County Park last month. He is being held on a misdemeanor charge of disposing of a body without a permit.

Pacifico, 47, said he knew Simancas for about two years, after meeting her through Kraus.

He said the couple, who had been together three years, were transient and sometimes slept on the couch in his apartment. Simancas often stayed with her family in the Bronx, Pacifico said, and police said she lived recently in Central Islip.

He said he last talked to her the morning before her death.

"I was shocked, totally shocked," he said of the fatal overdose. "I actually started crying, I felt so bad for her. She was a good girl."

Pacifico said he believed Simancas had five children whom she cared for deeply.

Repeated calls to Simancas' relatives were not returned.

In a lengthy statement to police, Kraus said he, Simancas and three friends were partying at a Cold Spring Harbor home on Feb. 27, taking heroin and Xanax.

"As Pura sat on the living room couch she faded out and looked unconscious. I shook her arm and realized she was dead," he said in the statement.

Kraus said he and his friends panicked. They wrapped her body in a blanket, put her in the back of a pickup truck and drove to Manorville, where they left her body, after covering it with leaves and branches.

With Kery Murakami

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