The murder of Katherine Woods came as a huge shock to New York City. The case caught the attention of many individuals.
The incident serves as a chilling reminder of the terrible effects of jealousy and the irrationality of human behaviour.
The memory of Katherine Woods’ life and the pursuit of justice endure even as her family and friends continue to mourn her passing.
Watch “New York Homicide,” which airs Saturdays at 9/8c on Oxygen, or stream episodes on the Oxygen app to learn more about this case, including information about the OSU dance scholarship established in Woods’ honour.
The case of Katherine Woods murder
In order to follow her dream of playing on Broadway, Catherine Woods bravely left her Ohio home at the age of 17 and moved to New York City.
In 2008, she set out on this amazing trip with a heart full of hope and resolve. David Haughn, Catherine’s roommate, dialled 911 on November 27, 2005, expressing his worry.
He described the gruesome and terrible scene he had seen in their Upper East Side flat over the phone, a scene marred by blood and Catherine’s lifeless body.
A gruesome discovery
Authorities discovered a horrifying scene of brutality when they arrived at the crime scene.
Approximately 15 knife wounds to the neck were found on Catherine Woods, according to former NYPD officer Steven Goetz.
The little flat had obvious signs of a struggle, and the mattress in the bedroom was on the floor, impeding the ability of emergency medical professionals to help.
Thomas Ryan, a retired first-grade investigator, said the attack’s ferocity was a sign of Catherine’s attacker’s strong wrath and aggression.
The roommate’s history
The 23-year-old doorman and wannabe rapper David Haughn knew Katherine Woods well.
From friendship to romance and finally to roommates, their connection had developed.
They both had financial difficulties, but they continued to live together out of necessity and familiarity.
Haughn was questioned by investigators right away, and he vehemently denied any involvement in the murder.
A bloody shoe print matching Haughn’s size ten and a half shoes was found at the crime scene, though, raising questions.
The initial focus of the investigators
David Haughn was the main target of the inquiry because of his relationship with Katherine and the existence of the bloody shoe print.
Haughn maintained his innocence throughout a lengthy interview that lasted many hours, giving detectives a timeline of his actions during Catherine’s murder.
He claimed to have taken about 20 minutes away from the flat to get his car and take Catherine to the club where she worked.
Haughn continued, “I made a brief visit to the building where I worked as a doorman and stopped to see my coworkers.”
Investigators questioned the veracity of his timeline, though. Haughn also revealed that Catherine was seeing Paul Cortez, another man.
The involvement of Paul Cortez
A year was spent dating Katherine Woods by Paul Cortez, a 24-year-old yoga instructor and aspiring actor.
When questioned about his whereabouts on the day of the murder, Cortez stated that he had spent the entire day food shopping at several places, followed by an evening of watching football with friends before returning home.
With reference to Catherine’s worry about a potential stalker named Joe, Cortez voiced concern at being unable to contact Catherine.
Detectives followed up on clues that could have connected Joe to the crime but were unable to find any proof.
The search for evidence
Paul Cortez, a 24-year-old actor with aspirations of becoming a yoga teacher, dated Katherine Woods for a full year.
When asked where he had been on the day of Katherine Woods’ murder, Cortez replied that he had gone grocery shopping all day long at a number of different stores, watched football with friends in the evening, and then headed home.
Unexpectedly, the handprint did not match the fingerprints that David Haughn had voluntarily submitted earlier.
The fact that the handprint and Paul Cortez’s fingerprints couldn’t be compared caused a problem for the investigators.
Cortez and his family hired a lawyer after he was released from the initial interrogation, which made it impossible to get his fingerprints.
Alternative avenues for evidence
Cortez’s fingerprints were not available, therefore investigators looked into other options to support their case.
They went back to the people Cortez had been out with the night of the murder to watch football.
One of his friends pointed out that Cortez’s involvement in such activities was unusual for him, maybe implying an attempt to fabricate an excuse.
Cortez’s bandmates revealed that he had missed rehearsal, which was unusual for him, raising more questions.
Investigators made a crucial decision to get a warrant for Cortez’s cell phone records in order to determine where he was on November 27.
According to the data, Cortez lived 30 blocks away from the scene of the crime, and calls he made to Catherine on that particular day were located at a tower close to the apartment.
His calls abruptly stopped after 6 o’clock, which is when the murder is thought to have occurred. However, the case came to a halt in the absence of Cortez’s fingerprints.
A Break in the Katherine Woods murder case
After reading about the murder of Katherine Woods, a woman bravely came forward and disclosed that Paul Cortez had sexually attacked her a year prior to Katherine’s death. This was a pivotal turning point in the investigation.
With Cortez’s arrest as a result of this new development, authorities were able to collect his fingerprints.
According to retired NYPD officer Michael Aherne, when he first walked into the room where Cortez was being detained, the suspect had a look of utter horror on his face.
Detectives were able to support their theory further when they discovered that Cortez’s size ten and a half Skechers shoes matched the shoe prints at the crime site. Cortez’s
fingerprint matched the print discovered on the apartment wall.
The conviction and sentencing
Paul Cortez was detained on December 19, 2005, and charged with murdering Katherine Woods. He was found guilty and sentenced.
On February 15, 2007, he was definitively convicted guilty of second-degree murder after being specifically accused of “slashing her throat,” according to The New York Times.
The judge sentenced Cortez to 25 years to life in prison. Authorities are still unable to establish the exact cause of the victim’s death despite the conviction.
Being a binge-watcher himself, finding Content to write about comes naturally to Divesh. From Anime to Trending Netflix Series and Celebrity News, he covers every detail and always find the right sources for his research.