true crime

Everything we know about the murder of Orsolya Gaal.

This post deals with violence against women and might be triggering for some readers.

Orsolya Gaal, a 51-year-old married mother of two boys, was a keen hiker and skier. 

But sadly her life was cut short when her body was found dumped inside a duffel bag in Forest Hills in the borough of Queens, New York City on April 16.

The case has garnered significant media attention given the severity of the crime - not to mention the twists and turns that have occurred since. Because in the early days of the investigation, police revealed that Orsolya's son and husband were considered suspects in her murder.

But this week, police arrested and charged a separate man with the murder.

Here's everything we know about the case. 

Watch: Women and violence, the hidden numbers. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

On April 15, Orsolya had reportedly attended a live music performance at the Lincoln Centre with a female friend. After the concert, she visited a local bar in her neighbourhood alone before returning home.

"She had come back from a concert, seeing her favorite composer," the manager of the local bar told CBS2. "She was delighted at that. She was elated that she saw this composer live. She was very into the arts and music. A very classy woman. Very sweet. Orsolya was here on Friday [night] around 11:45pm to 12:30am. She came in alone she left alone."

CCTV showing Orsolya at the bar has been passed on to investigators. Just after midnight, she then went home. 

It is when she arrived home that police allege she was killed. 

An autopsy found that Orsolya was stabbed 58 times in the neck and torso, and suffered defensive wounds to her arm, fingers and palms.

ADVERTISEMENT

Her body was found inside a duffel bag the following morning around 8am near a popular walking path in her neighbourhood. The bag was found by a local man walking his dog. 

The man, Van Nostrand, thought the wheeled duffel bag had simply been discarded. But his two Rhodesian ridgebacks became so agitated as they neared it that he decided to look inside.

"They are scent hounds," Van Nostrand told The Post. "They see the world through their noses. I thought, 'oh, my goodness,' and called police at 8:05am and said there's a body in this bag'. It's shocking. My personal feeling is a broken heart for whoever this is. My heart was in my throat the entire time."

Police confirmed the duffel bag had been leaking blood, so there was a blood trail from the duffel bag leading to Orsolya's home.

ADVERTISEMENT

Orsolya's youngest son - aged 13 - was seen being taken away in handcuffs shortly after Orsolya's body was found, as he was home when police knocked on the door. 

Orsolya's older son aged 17 and her husband were both in Oregon when the incident happened, apparently on a college visit. Originally, the New York Police Department (NYPD) said the husband and sons were potential suspects in the case, labelling them "persons of interest".

But it was Orsolya's phone and message records that helped find the alleged killer. And it led to the family's handyman.

According to the NYPD, Orsolya and the handyman - 44-year-old David Bonola - had been in an on-again / off-again affair for over two years. It was a "heated argument" about ending the relationship that led to Bonola allegedly stabbing Orsolya to death in her home's basement. 

Orsolya's youngest son was home at the time, but it is yet unclear if he heard the argument or killing, given it took place in the basement. 

Image: Facebook.Bonola allegedly placed Orsolya's body into her son's hockey equipment bag and rolled it nine blocks, where it was left to be discovered on the popular walking track.

ADVERTISEMENT

But little did Bonola know there were multiple street CCTV cameras along the path he took, which allegedly show him dragging the duffle bag in the middle of the night.

A jacket, pair of boots, a shirt and bloodied bandages believed to belong to Bonola were then found in the nearby Forest Park.

On April 21, Bonola was arrested and charged with murder, first-degree criminal tampering and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

Police sources also suggest that Bonola showed up Orsolya's house without her knowledge, allegedly using a hidden spare key, as there were no signs of forced entry.

Bonola had no prior arrests against his name, but police said he was living in New York in violation of immigration law. He was also treated for wounds to his hands at a New York hospital, which authorities revealed are in connection to the case. 

The knife in question is also with investigators. 

Listen to The Quicky: Frontline domestic violence workers tell us what's really happening. Post continues after audio.

ADVERTISEMENT


Bonola has since confessed to the crime, with a senior NYPD officer telling The Daily Beast that Bonola said he became "jealous" when he discovered that Orsolya had been texting another man. Bonola claimed he had seen text messages between Orsolya and another man and so he went to her home to confront her when she returned from the music event. 

A judge ordered Bonola to be held without bond after confessing to the brutal crime. Bonola has access to Queens Defenders, a non-profit organisation which is providing him with free legal representation given his immigration status and financial position in order for a fair trial to occur.

No member of Orsolya's family is now suspected of involvement in the murder.

Loved ones of the mum have paid tribute, saying their thoughts are with her and her family.

One friend wrote on Facebook - "I'll always remember how passionate you were about your boys and their education. I'm so sorry about how you left this world but I hope you find peace. Your boys are so lucky to have you as a mum. RIP."

Another said - "We've been friends for 15 years. Sharing our boys' journeys together. It's so hard to fathom this... We were on the phone together just days ago speaking about colleges. My heart is broken."

As Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement, Orsolya's sons are struggling with the loss of their mum.

"Two boys are left without a mother and a young teenager faces the added trauma of being home when this heinous murder took place. The defendant is now in custody and will be held to account for this horrific crime."

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

You can also call safe steps 24/7 Family Violence Response Line on 1800 015 188 or visit www.safesteps.org.au for further information.

The Men’s Referral Service is also available on 1300 766 491 or via online chat at www.ntv.org.au.

Feature Image: Facebook.