Murder at  River City Grille Stuns Irvington

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by Barrett Seaman  –

Bonifacio Rodriguez

Bonifacio “Boney” Rodriguez, 39, was a happy guy by all accounts. Married and the father of two girls, 15 and 12, he had worked at Irvington’s popular River City Grille restaurant for nearly 20 years. He was the “prep chef” who had his own room next to the kitchen where he cleaned fish, trimmed meat and readied ingredients for lunch and dinner meals. “He’d be back there listening to NPR (National Public Radio) all day,” said his boss, restaurant owner Bobby Manzi.

Then late morning on Tuesday, April 10, according to Irvington police and the Westchester District Attorney’s office, Boney was allegedly stabbed multiple times by Rosa Ramirez, 27, a resident of Chinatown in lower Manhattan who had been hired less than two weeks earlier as a dishwasher. Two other restaurant employees were in the building at the time but not in the kitchen. They found Rodriguez on the floor, bleeding profusely, and called 911. He was taken to Westchester Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 12:19 p.m., within an hour of the attack.

Ramirez was taken immediately into custody and arraigned before Irvington Village Judge Desmond Lyons around 6:00 p.m. that evening—charged with murder in the second degree. The last time anyone was murdered in Irvington was in 1974, when Elfriede Bernhardt, 41, was killed by18-year-old Neal Giraldi of Tarrytown at her home on Havemeyer Road.

When Ramirez returned to court in Irvington April 16, her legal aid attorney, Jessica Hugel, told Judge Lyons that her client would waive a felony hearing, clearing the way for a county grand jury to hear the case in White Plains.

Hugel confirmed that her client was pregnant but has said little else about the case. No one, save perhaps Ramirez herself, knows the motive. Several news organizations have since reported that Ramirez is facing assault charges in New York City for allegedly slashing her roommate’s boyfriend with a knife last October. Irvington police say they are still investigating and that their case will be presented to the grand jury in early May.

According to restaurateur Manzi, Ramirez had answered an Internet ad for the dishwashing job. She was interviewed by one of Manzi’s colleagues, who spoke Spanish, before he interviewed her. “She seemed pleasant, normal—somebody who needed a job,” recalls Manzi. His one concern was her long commute from Chinatown, but Ramirez assured him that she liked to travel.

A popular spot for both lunch and dinner, River City Grille, on Broadway just south of Main Street, became a crime scene. After investigators had done their work, the restaurant reopened for business but closed down again the following Monday so that the entire staff could attend Boney’s wake in Yonkers.

On the day of the murder, Manzi started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to cover funeral expenses and perhaps provide seed money for the girls’ education. “Please help us to provide for the dear family of our beloved Bonifacio Rodriguez.,” it read. “Since his tragic passing, they will suffer both emotionally and financially. The River City Grille family appreciates your support.” The goal was $25,000. Less than a week later, the fund had surpassed that goal, and a separate fund for Rodriguez’s wife Selma had raised additional money.

The family plans to send his remains back to Mexico where Boney Rodriguez will be buried next to his father.

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