Law & Justice

Hay Thieves Nabbed During Colley Murder Investigation Await Sentencing

Lois and Eugene Colley Credits: File/Catherine Ferris

NORTH SALEM, N.Y.-Two North Salem men whose illegal deeds were discovered during the two-year investigation into the bludgeoning death of Westchester socialite Lois Colley are expected to learn their fates in the unrelated theft of hay from her property in two months.

Angel Parra Penafield, 36, and Hugo Ramirez-Morales, 36, were arrested in January 2016 during an investigation into the 83-year-old’s murder at her Titicus Road 300-acre estate, Windswept Farm. Authorities have said Penafield and Ramirez-Morales were not suspects in the Nov. 9, 2015, murder and that the theft of the hay—$30,000 worth between Feb. 12, 2013, and Nov. 9, 2015—was discovered by chance.

The men, who were caretakers at the estate, have pleaded guilty to third degree larceny charges. They appeared in Westchester County Court on Jan. 11 for sentencing, but the hearing was continued to March 14. As part of their plea deal, they must make full restitution.

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But as their roles in connection to the death of Lois Colley near an end, that of the alleged murderer is just beginning.

Police say the body of the widow of millionaire McDonald’s franchisee Eugene Colley was found on Nov. 9, 2015, in the laundry room of the family’s home on the farm. During their investigation they discovered a pin from a fire extinguisher lying near her body. The extinguisher itself, believed to be the murder weapon, was found in a pond on the property. Police said it was wrapped in a plastic bag and contained Colley’s DNA.

Esdras Marroquin Gomez, 32, who is charged with her murder, is being held in Westchester County Jail and is scheduled to appear in Westchester County Court before Judge Anne Minihan on Feb. 22.

Police have said Gomez, a former laborer on the Colley estate, was in the country illegally when he allegedly killed Lois Colley. He fled the country after the murder, and after being indicted for murder by a Westchester County Grand Jury, was taken into custody by the FBI during a stopover in Florida while on his way to Guatemala.

At his Nov. 13 arraignment, Gomez pleaded not guilty to one count of second-degree murder. If convicted, he faces 25 years to life in state prison. 

Gomez is being represented by attorney Cynthia Lobo.

Lois Colley had lived at Windswept Farm with her husband, Eugene Colley, for more than 40 years. They started their life together in Brewster, where Eugene owned a bakery. After selling the bakery, he invested the money in a McDonald’s franchise, which became the foundation of his wealth.

Lois Colley also was a member of the Brewster-Carmel Garden Club and an accomplished NYS Federated Garden Club Flower Show judge.

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