The body of a Staten Island mother of three was discovered yesterday in the apartment of an upstairs neighbor - a man described by her husband as a spurned lover. Cops said they found Maria Perez, 22, fully clothed, hands bound behind her back and lying facedown, in a third-floor flat rented by a tenant identified only as Randy. "I'm so confused. I'm hurt. I just lost my best friend," said Perez's husband, Larry Dante Sapp, 39, who was helping her raise three children ages 6 months to 3 years.
"To be honest, she was having a fling with this guy, but she broke it off recently," Sapp said. "He must have called her upstairs to talk about it."
Sapp said he last saw his wife Wednesday night and had become increasingly worried about her.
Perez's aunt, Sylvia Fuentes, 42, said Sapp went upstairs in the Harbor Road building in Mariners Harbor about 4 p.m. yesterday and confronted Randy, who was standing in front of the closed door to his apartment.
"Larry said, 'I want to go inside,'" but the guy said, 'Sorry, man, I locked myself out. I have to go to the locksmith now.'"
Randy then left, Fuentes said.
His suspicions raised, Sapp called cops, who entered the apartment and found Perez's body.
Cops said it wasn't clear yet what killed her.
Because her hands were bound, relatives immediately thought she might have been the victim of the same killer who murdered Manhattan grad student Imette St.Guillen. But investigators said the crimes don't appear to be linked. Police were searching for the upstairs neighbor last night.