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Two Arrested In Slaying Of Student Who Was Kidnapped, Then Burned Alive

September 8, 1995 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ Two men were charged with dousing a college student with gasoline and burning her alive to mask a botched kidnapping, and one also is accused of murdering a third accomplice.

The killing of 20-year-old Kimberly Antonakos six months ago was ``one of the most brutal and savage homicides that has ever occurred″ in New York’s Queens borough, said District Attorney Richard Brown.

Joshua Torres, 22, and Nicholas Libretti, 19, were charged Thursday with murder, kidnapping, arson and robbery.

Police said Torres hatched a kidnapping plot after he and his wife briefly lived with Antonakos in her Brooklyn apartment, and he became convinced that her family could afford to pay a hefty ransom. Antonakos’ father, Thomas, owned a computer business.

Antonakos, a student at the College of Staten Island, was last seen on March 1 by a friend whom she’d given a car ride home. A short time later, Libretti and Jose Negron, 26, allegedly abducted her from her driveway.

The pair bound and gagged her, threw her into the trunk of her 1994 Honda Accord and took her to the basement of a vacant home in Queens, authorities said. She was left there alone, bound in a chair, while Torres tried unsuccessfully to contact her father, Thomas, they said.

Three days later, the three men returned to the vacant house, where they poured gasoline on Antonakos and the floor of the basement, set her on fire and fled, police said.

The woman’s burned, bound and gagged body was found by firefighters.

Torres later became convinced Negron was about to go to the police, so on June 23 he shot Negron in the head, police said.

An unrelated robbery last month led police to Torres and Libretti and further investigation led to their arrest.

Thomas Antonakos told the Daily News that he blamed himself in part.

``I should have made her come back to live in Staten Island. I think about it all the time,″ he said.

``It was her goodness that was her weakness.″