Woman Jumps Out Window After Violent Argument
A Far Rockaway woman suffered several bone fractures and internal injures Monday when she jumped from a fourth-floor window of an apartment building in Far Rockaway during a violent argument with a male acquaintance over personal items.
Maria James, 36, jumped from the window of apartment 4P in the D building of the Roy Reuther Houses at about 3:15 p.m. Monday, after an argument with Edgard Andre, 61, police and other sources said. She plummeted about 30 feet and landed on a construction shed that surrounds much of the building and stands about 10 feet off the ground.
James and Andre, who were both arrested after the incident, tell conflicting accounts of what happened.
James told police she was being held inside the apartment against her will and that she struck Andre several times in the face with a cell phone and then jumped out the window in a desperate bid to escape. Andre and his mother, Rolande Andre, told The Wave that James - a guest of less than a week - flew into a rage because she thought Andre had thrown out her things.
A Wave reporter interviewed Rolande Andre with the help of her caretaker inside apartment 4P on the day after the incident. The caretaker did not want to comment out of fear that she would be dragged into the mess. Andre returned to the apartment after his arraignment and was also interviewed.
Rolande Andre, the legal occupant of the apartment, said the incident began when James knocked on the door and the caretaker let her inside. James demanded her things - a yellow tote-bag and a CVS shopping bag containing clothes, letters and other items - from Andre, who was watching television, and became incensed when she couldn't find her stuff, she said.
"In her frantic effort to find it, she overlooked it," Andre said. "She had a crazed, on-a-mission look," he said.
Andre and his mother say that James accused Andre of throwing her things away in a profanity-laced tirade.
"He tried to keep her quiet," Andre's soft-spoken mother said as she sat on her bed sipping soup, with her caretaker sitting close by.
But instead of giving James her things and getting rid of her, Andre said he told James that she first had to apologize for her behavior before she could leave. He blocked the door to the apartment, and James came at him with her cell phone, he said.
"She tried to bum rush him to get out the door," Rolande Andre told The Wave.
James landed several blows with the cell phone, and caused a gash over Andre's right eyebrow. It was then that he decided to call 911 and told James she wasn't getting out the door until police arrived, Andre said. Determined to get out of the apartment, James found another exit.
"Before I could actually call 911 she was on her way out the window," Andre said. Carrying her yellow bag, she slid the screen open and went out one leg at a time. "I could not believe that this girl was doing what she was doing," said Andre, who was still surprised by the move.
"Nobody was hitting her. Nobody was putting a hand on her, except to stop her from hitting on me," Andre said. "Unless there was a fire burning or a life-threatening situation, I wouldn't have run out that window."
James jumped before Andre could get to her, he said. "I would have grabbed her ass and brought her back up in here," he said.
James landed on the wooden part of a sidewalk shed that surrounds the building and lessened her fall by one floor. Residents said police and EMS crews quickly responded, and that a crowd quickly formed outside.
"I guess they must have heard the boom or the screaming," Andre said of his curious neighbors.
James suffered bone fractures and internal injuries and was taken to Jamaica Hospital, where she was listed in serious but stable condition, according to police. She will be arraigned on assault and harassment charges upon her release, according to a spokesperson for Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown. She remained hospitalized at press time and could not be reached to comment for this story.
Andre was treated at St. John's Episcopal Hospital and then was arraigned on the charge of unlawful imprisonment, according to the district attorney's office.
While police described Andre as James' boyfriend and labeled the incident a domestic dispute, Andre says "it wasn't that kind of relationship." He said James, who also uses the name Antonia Fanette and lives at 31-01 Seagirt Avenue, "got herself into a situation where she didn't have a place to go," he said. "We reached out to her."
The blanket and pillows that James had slept on were still on the floor in the living room when the Wave reporter visited on Tuesday.
Andre, who was released on his own recognizance after his arraignment, calmly snacked on vanilla wafers with milk upon his return home.
"Unlawful imprisonment is no petty charge," he lamented to his mother and the caretaker. "You don't have to worry about me helping nobody, not anymore," he later said.