Brooklyn detectives are tracing the troubled past and associations of a stripper from Kansas whose skeletal remains were found in a suitcase nearly two years ago on the top floor of a fire-scarred building in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
DNA analysis confirmed in January 2014 that the remains found at 174 Hull St. were those of Erica McDaniel, known as "Shorty Pee," who was 30 at the time of her death. McDaniel's family was in the military and she moved around the country, with stays in Florida and Alaska, as well as Kansas, said Det. John Ulmer with the 73rd Precinct.
Records show that McDaniel, who spent time in a Kansas prison for battery, had a number of associates or possible relatives on Long Island, and detectives are interested in talking with anyone they can locate or who comes forward, police said.
This past weekend, detectives put up posters with McDaniel's picture around the Hull Street address, as well as her last known address at 1084 Bedford Ave. in Bedford-Stuyvesant. The suitcase in which McDaniel's remains were found was discovered by workers doing a renovation in late March 2013 on the structure, which police said had once been occupied by squatters and had experienced a fire in May 2012. The suitcase had some fire damage, said police.
Soon after McDaniel was identified, her family held a two-hour memorial service in Junction City, Kansas. McDaniel's family didn't return telephone calls for comment last week.
A high-ranking police official who didn't want to be identified said another intriguing element in the case is the fact that McDaniel's body was concealed in a suitcase, the same way the dismembered remains of Brooklyn prostitute Tanya Rush, 39, were found in June 2008 along the Southern State Parkway in North Bellmore. Rush lived in the Van Dyke Houses in Brownsville, less than a mile from where McDaniel's body was found. However, it is not known if the women knew each other: Rush was dead in June 2008 and McDaniel was in and out of the Kansas prison system around that time, correction records show.
Because of the condition of McDaniel's remains and the way they were found, the city medical examiner could only classify her cause of death as "homicidal violence of undetermined etiology [cause]." Found with her body were some underwear, a blonde wig she used for dancing and acrylic fingernails, which were embossed with tiny pieces of U.S. currency -- a popular practice among some younger women, said Ulmer.
Police believe McDaniel's death may have something to do with her domestic situation from her time in Kansas, although they said her boyfriend was not considered a suspect. Investigators are tracing McDaniel's dealings as a dancer with at least one strip club in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn, an area that has adult entertainment venues.
The NYPD is asking anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). All calls are strictly confidential.