By Danny Schrafel
A year and a half after her friend Sarah Strobel’s lifeless body was discovered in the Froehlich Farms preserve off of Oakwood Road in Huntington, not knowing what happened may be the hardest part of all for Huntington’s Taylor Friedman.
“There’s still no new developments at all,” she said. “I haven’t heard anything. That’s why we’re here.”
“Here” was outside the Suffolk Police Department’s Second Precinct on Park Avenue, where Friedman and Strobel’s closest friends kept a somber vigil in the bitter cold the night of Feb. 19, holding signs bearing messages demanding justice for their friend on what would have been Strobel’s 25th birthday.
Strobel, a Walt Whitman High School grad, was found dead Oct. 3, 2013. Throughout the investigation, police have been largely tight-lipped, and Friedman said the lack of information is maddening.
“We don’t know how she was murdered. We don’t know if she was murdered at Froehlich Farms,” she said. “We don’t know if she was possibly raped. We want to know why this is taking so long – it’s ridiculous.”
Strobel’s friends say that repeated calls to homicide detectives have gone unanswered, and a meeting with a detective on duty at the Second Precinct that night yielded no new information.
At a community meeting last November, Second Precinct Inspector Edward Brady pleaded for patience, stressing that some murder investigations continue for years before an arrest is made. Police officials have added that the information Strobel’s friends crave must be guarded from public view because those details may be critical to ensuring that Strobel’s killer is caught and convicted.
But in the meantime, friends feel the lack of information is a disservice to Strobel, whom they remembered as an adventurous soul who loved life.
“She was always smiling. She was always happy,” Friedman said. “You could have a bad day, and she could turn it around.”
“She was one of the few people I trusted 100 percent,” friend Samantha Press, of Huntington, said.
Freidman added Strobel had a passion for holistic medicine and was studying to become a masseuse.
“She always meant well and tried to strive to do better for herself,” Friedman said.
Friedman said she fears that the death of Strobel, who friends said was estranged from her family at the end of her life, is not being treated with the same urgency as others because of her battle with addiction.
“In the end of Sarah’s life, unfortunately, she got mixed up in some bad things, and I think they are only seeing that… They don’t know Sarah like we know Sarah,” Friedman said. “That wasn’t who Sarah was… She had a disease, and it was untreated.”
Strobel’s death is one of four homicide cases in a year’s time – including those of Daniel Carbajal, 25, who was shot and killed outside a Huntington Station residence in July; Luis Ramos-Rodriguez, 38, who was stabbed to death outside of a Huntington Station restaurant; and Maggie Rosales, a Walt Whitman High School student who was stabbed to death Oct. 12. Only in the Rosales case, which sparked a community outcry demanding change in Huntington Station, has an arrest been made – 21-year-old neighbor Adam Saalfield was charged in connection with her murder.
Friedman pledged to keep pushing police until an arrest is made and the case is closed.
“Being so close to Sarah, I welcome the challenge,” she said. “We’re going to be around until something is done and something is told to us. We want answers.”
In a statement Wednesday, Suffolk County Police said “no homicide is acceptable,” and that Strobel’s case is no exception.
They stressed that the department “never gives up on a homicide investigation.”
“The Suffolk County Police Department Homicide Squad is actively investigating her murder. The solving of every homicide is the Suffolk County Police Department’s highest priority,” the department said. “All our resources are made available to the Suffolk County Police Department’s Homicide detectives, including resources from the Medical Examiner’s office, the District Attorney’s office and the Crime Lab, among others.”
Officials said they fully understand the anger, shock and fear that the murder Strobel has caused in Huntington and across Suffolk County.
“The Suffolk County Police Department realizes it has an obligation to the community, and an obligation to Sarah’s friends and family, but the department’s greatest obligation is to Sarah,” they said. “The Suffolk County Police Department’s goal is to ensure that there is justice for Sarah by arresting and successfully prosecuting whoever is responsible for her murder.”
Anyone with information on the case can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS (8477).