Death of man, 97, is ruled homicide 55 years after stabbing, prompting new probe

It's a 55-year-old stabbing that's now a present-day New York City murder investigation after the victim died a few months ago at the age of 97.

Two NYPD detectives have been pounding the pavement in a quixotic hunt for clues after the coroner ruled Antonio Ciccarello's death in September a homicide.

A man with a knife jumped Ciccarello from behind early on a dark and rainy morning on the Lower East Side in 1958 or 1959. The assailant stabbed Ciccarello, on his way to work as a porter at a Times Square building, in the back. Doctors saved his life, but in doing so caused a blockage that the New York City Medical Examiner's Office said was the cause of his death five decades later.

Ciccarello never reported the stabbing to police. He told of being stabbed many times to his family, including his daughter who was a baby when the attack happened. The operation to keep him alive left a foot-long scar on his body.

"It baffles the mind; it baffles our family's mind," Mary Paloglou, 57, told The New York Times in a front-page story Sunday. "The person who stabbed him is probably dead. Long dead."

The two detectives investigating Ciccarello's murder are from the Manhattan Midtown South precinct. They have searched in vain for co-workers of Ciccarello's who might still be alive. They also have sifted through old and dusty hospital records and scanned microfiche of long-ago police reports.

At this point there are no witnesses or suspects.

"The problem we're coming up with is there are not too many people who are still alive," Lt. Michael Saccone, the commander of the Midtown South detective squad, told the newspaper. "He lived all these years with no problem," he added. "And all of a sudden, it's a homicide."

Saccone said it's possible Ciccarello knew his attacker, but didn't tell anyone.

The daughter thinks the person who stabbed her father was a stranger to him.

"He didn't know who it was," Paloglou told the Daily News. "It could of been a bum in the street. It was just a random act. He wasn't robbed."

New York reported a record low 332 murders in 2014. Ciccarello's murder was one of the 332.