NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Neil G. White, 47, or 3 Arbor Lane appeared in New Rochelle City Court this afternoon before Judge Anthony Carbone after being charged with Second Degree Murder in the asphyxiation death of his 7-year old daughter. He did not enter a plea. He was not granted bail but remanded to custody while awaiting trial. He is due back in court on June 15.
The victim is Gabriele White. The cause of her death is believed to be asphyxiation by suffocation pending confirmation by the Westchester County Medical Examiner.
New Rochelle Police Captain Robert Gazzola said police responded to the child’s home at 3 Arbor Lane after receiving a 911 call from the child’s caregiver, later identified as Tonette Mahon. The father did not call 911, according to police.
Mahon became concerned as to what was happening at the home after exchanging a series of text messages with the suspect at about 1:40 p.m. She went to the home and found Neil White in his bedroom with blood on his wrists. She went to check on the daughter and found her non-responsive, apparently dead, lying face down in bed. There was no sign of a struggle but police did find blood throughout the house. Police said that early unconfirmed reports that the girl was stabbed were not correct.
Gazzola said police previously responded to the home in response to a verbal domestic dispute involving Neil White and Michelle Hord-White. He did not provide further details. Talk of the Sound has requested a copy of the Incident Report.
Neil White entered the courtroom, appearing calm, wearing a blue hospital gown, black leggingsm and beige hospital socks. Both wrists were heavily bandaged. He appeared alert. He engaged in discussion with his court appointed attorney, Harvey Loeb, and reviewed court papers with his lawyer.
Courtroom staff, attorneys and reporters and members of the public were downcast, many with eyes down, completely silent throughout White’s appearance.
The court issued Temporary Orders of Protection for Michelle Hord-White, Neil White’s wife and Tonette Mahon, the caregiver.
At a press conference prior to the arraignment, New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson said the day was “an exceptionally painful day for New Rochelle”.
“This is devastating news that we will struggle to understand for a long time,” said Bramson.
Speaking off the record with reporters outside the courthouse, Council Member Jared Rice, whose daughter was best friend’s with the victim, was overwhelmed with emotion.
Neil White is a Democrat political operative who worked on campaigns for Hillary Clinton, New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson and did work for three New York State senators.
Police would not address what role a pending divorce may have played in the incident. Gazzola did say that the couple was living apart and had joint custody of their daughter.
Gazzola said Gabrielle did not go to school yesterday. She was a second grader at Ward Elementary School. Police said they are investigating whether the father called the school to say she would not be at school Tuesday or whether anyone called the home when she did not arrive at school that morning.
There was a heavy police presence at Ward Elementary School this morning as students and parents arrived and struggled to cope with the tragic death of their schoolmate.
Kemberly Richardson of WABC7 interviewed Tonette Mahon, the caregiver.
I looked up the stairs and I kept calling "Neil?, Neil?, Gabrielle?, Neil?, Gabrielle? and I looked down the hallway and I saw the shades were closed in her room and the lights were off and it was very dark so I couldn't tell, like the blankets were messed up, I couldn't tell if she was in there and I was just like "Neil?" and that's when he came out.
Kemberly Richardson: And what did he say to you?
Tonette Mahon: "Hey Miss Tonette, everything OK? And I said "Yeah, where's Gabrielle? "Oh, she's in her room resting."
Kemberly Richardson: Did you notice the blood at this point?
Tonette Mahon: No, on his wrists, I did and his shirtsleeves and that's when I started backing down the stairs and gathered my things, grabbed my bag, I just kept it on the seat and ran out with my slippers on and called the mom and called the police
Kemberly Richardson: So you never went in Gabrielle's room?
Tonette Mahon: No, mam.