This is a case that has always stuck with me a bit because of the gruesomeness of the crime, let alone the fact that the man who prosecutors say was behind the viciousness was actually a friend of the victim. When you add the stupidity of the perpetrators it makes the case even more senseless and callous.
Twenty year old Kimberly Antonakos disappeared in the early morning of March 1, 1995 from Queens New York. Kimberly was the daughter of divorced parents and her father was a very wealthy and successful business man. He was in the business of computers and in 1995 that area was booming! Within hours it seems that Thomas Antonakos knew his daughter was missing and contacted the police. The search began and many of Kimberly's friends helped search for her, including Joshua Torres. Joshua, his girlfriend and their young toddler were staying with Kimberly at the time she disappeared while they waited for their new apartment to be ready to move in. For almost four days there were no clues as to where Kimberly could have been.
Then in the late night of March 4th, firefighters were called to a fire at an abandoned home. After the fire was put out a body was found inside the basement of the home, tied to a chair. The body would be identified as Kimberly Antonakos. An autopsy would determine that she had been alive when the fire occurred although whether she was conscious was unclear. Her car would be found some three to four days later but the clues would end there and for the next six months it seems investigators had few to no leads.
Then in September of 1995 investigators would get the lead that they say would break the case. It started with a burglary of a home. The lead came from a burglary but it was unclear as to if the lead came from the perpetrator of the burglary or the victims. At any rate it led to the arrests of Joshua Torres and Nicholas Libretti. It was alleged that another man, named Jose Negron, was also involved but in June of 1995 he was shot in the head while walking down the street with his young son. In the process of things not only would Torres and Libretti be charged with kidnapping, murder and arson, Torres would also be charged in the murder of Jose Negron.
As most of us involved in true crime know, the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976 but throughout the years the states have taken on their own stance. New York had abolished the death penalty in 1984 but the murder of Kimberly Antonakos would revive the often debated subject and rile up the residents of the state. Neither Torres or Libretti could face the death penalty for their role in Kimberly's death but it appears that citizens believed they should have and it was later in that year that the death penalty was reinstated once again. Executions continued apparently until 2004 when the New York appeals court found the law, as it was written as unconstitutional. In 2007 they were officially once again abolished and remain so in 2017.
It seems that the person with the most information to provide investigators in this case was a man by the name of Julio Negron (no relation to Jose, or so it says). As I stated earlier it is unclear as to whether Julio was the perpetrator in the burglary that occurred and blew this case open. Regardless of his involvement in the burglary, Julio would tell investigators that Torres had told him that he, along with the others, had kidnapped Kimberly in order to extort money from her father. Prosecutors would later say that while Julio knew about the crime and was privy to information both before and after her death he was not involved in the planning or the execution of the plans. Defense attorney's apparently would disagree. They would later argue that Julio Negron had “framed” Joshua Torres. To be fair, I found no evidence of this.
In November of 1996 Joshua Torres would go on trial. Prosecutors would claim that Torres was the mastermind behind the crime and that he had pushed both Jose Negron and Nicholas Libretti to kidnap Kimberly as she returned home after a night out. They would ambush her as she got out of her car, put tape across her eye and mouth, bound her hands behind her body and place her in the trunk of her car. They then drove her to the abandoned house where they would bound her to a pole in the basement of the home. According to prosecutors Torres would make a tape of some sort in which he would demand $75,000 from Kimberly's father for her release. However, prosecutors would describe Torres as a “moron” because when he called Thomas Antonakos' phone, he did not wait for the answering machine to stop playing so that it would record so Thomas never received the calls, or at least not the demands. It appears that this was done on more than one occasion. In the meantime Torres was in contact with Thomas appearing to help him search for his daughter.
While Torres thought he was demanding money from Kimberly's dad, she remained tied up in the home without any food, water, or blankets to keep her warm in freezing temperatures for almost four days. Finally, according to information that prosecutors received, not only was Torres angry that he had not heard back from Thomas Antonakos, but when they returned to the abandoned home they would find Kimberly unconscious. It was never made clear as to whether Torres believed Kimberly was already dead at this point or just realized that things had gone too far. It was then that idea of setting fire, not just to the house but to Kimberly was set into motion. According to prosecutors it was Torres who poured gasoline on Kimberly''s body while the others helped pouring it around the home and it was Torres who lit the match and set things ablaze.
At his trial Torres maintained his innocence, at least to a point. He would never, not even apparently to this day, admit to murdering Kimberly but it does seem he that he has eluded to being behind the kidnapping at times. Other times he simply claims full innocence. In my research I came across a statement that has been made by Torres since his trial back in 1996 and he claims total innocence and blames his court appointed lawyer for keeping him quiet. And, in all of the research that I did there was only one other site that told a completely different story than any of the others and I suspect Torres, or a completely delusional fan of his is behind it. Aside from those two versions, it seems that the prosecutors theory of the case, based on the information and evidence they had appears to be as close as possible to the real story.
After a two week trial and nine hours of deliberation the jury returned with a verdict of guilty in six of the seven counts that Torres faced. The only charge in which he was found not guilty was the charge of murder when it pertained to Jose Negron. Prosecutors had argued that Torres killed Jose Negron when he learned that Negron was having issues with his conscious with what they had done and Torres feared that he would tell the authorities. Julio Negron would tell the jury that Torres admitted killing Jose Negron had also made a tape about what happened and Torres feared that would get out. What this verdict tells me is that when it came to the murder of Kimberly, they had way more than the word of someone, they had to have the evidence to back it. Since he could not face the death penalty in December of 1996 Torres was sentenced to fifty-eight years to life in prison and remains there today. His first chance at parole is not until the year 2045.
After Torres' trial Nicholas Libretti faced a jury. He too was found guilty and sentenced to the same fifty-eight years to life sentence. Libretti would die in prison in 1999 at the age of twenty-three. I attempted to do a search on what happened but I was unable to determine anything.
Kimberly's father, Thomas Antonakos, lived to see his daughter's killers receive justice but he would die in 2005, many say of a broken heart. Thomas always maintained that he would have paid whatever amount someone wanted to get his daughter but never heard a word. I mentioned earlier there was one other site that told a different story than the others and in that one it was claimed that Thomas had received the ransom calls and refused to pay, there is nothing that I have found, seen or heard that supports this.