Sunday marked two months since Sister Jacqueline Walsh was mowed down while walking along the road in Water Mill and the suspected driver in the fatal hit-and-run, Carlos Armando Ixpec-Chitay, a 30-year-old undocumented Guatemalan immigrant, remains at large though police maintained this week that they are confident he will be caught.
The search at this point appears to be focused within U.S. borders—and along the West Coast—as a countrywide arrest warrant has been issued by Southampton Town Justice Court and endorsed by a Suffolk County judge.
Once located and arrested, Mr. Ixpec-Chitay faces a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident in which there was a fatality, according to authorities.
Authorities declined to say where they believe Mr. Ixpec-Chitay is hiding, though Southampton Town Police Detective Sergeant Lisa Costa said the suspect can be extradited if he is captured in another state. She also acknowledged that because Mr. Ixpec-Chitay is undocumented, “it absolutely makes it harder to find him.” Nevertheless, she said, police remain confident that he will eventually be brought to justice.
The U.S. Marshals Service has been leading the actual manhunt since Mr. Ixpec-Chitay fled the state not long after the accident on July 9.
Lenny DePaul, the chief inspector and commanding officer of the New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force with the U.S. Marshals Service, said in a phone interview last week that the most recent lead in the case was that Mr. Ixpec-Chitay was somewhere on the West Coast. Mr. DePaul declined to offer a more specific location.
The New York State Police Forensic Accident Reconstruction Unit has not yet completed its report of the hit-and-run accident; it is typical for those types of reports to take several months to complete, Det. Sgt. Costa said.
When asked this week if Andrew Zaro, the owner of the car involved in the crash, would face criminal charges, she replied, “the investigation is still active on all counts” and declined to comment further.
Mr. Ixpec-Chitay is suspected of driving a 2009 Volkswagen Touareg owned by Mr. Zaro, who has a home near the scene of the fatal accident on Rose Hill Road, at about 8:30 p.m. on July 9. The driver struck and killed Sister Walsh, 59, of Syosset, ditched the SUV about a half mile away in a driveway on Crescent Avenue and fled the scene. Police said Mr. Ixpec-Chitay, who had a previous arrest for DWI, does not have a valid driver’s license.
The victim, known as Sister Jackie and a member of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas order, was walking along the road when she was killed. She had been on a religious retreat at the Mercy Villa retreat house, just one property north of where police found her body. Thousands turned out for her wake and burial in Nassau County in July.