Hartford police identify man accused of stabbing girlfriend to death

Published: Apr. 16, 2023 at 5:04 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 17, 2023 at 10:01 AM EDT
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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Hartford police said they are investigating a domestic-related homicide in which the suspect stabbed his girlfriend then drove himself to the police department.

The male suspect was identified as 52-year-old Pedro Grajalez of Hartford. He was charged with murder and given a bond of $3 million. That bond doubled after he went before a judge Monday.

Pedro Grajalez was charged with murdering his girlfriend in Hartford on April 16, according to...
Pedro Grajalez was charged with murdering his girlfriend in Hartford on April 16, according to police.(Hartford police)

The victim was identified as 57-year-old Nilda Rivera of New Britain.

Police said Grajalez stabbed Rivera to death in a car and then drove the vehicle to the police department on Sunday afternoon.

The woman was brought to Saint Francis Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

According to Grajalez’s arrest warrant, he stabbed his girlfriend 25 times. He then drove to the police department and confessed to the killing.

Grajalez said he did it because his girlfriend was having an affair.

Hartford police said on Sunday afternoon Grajalez arrived at the Hartford Police Department and told officers he had stabbed his girlfriend and that she was inside the car parked in front of the building.

Officers found 57-year-old Nilda Rivera of New Britain in the car. She was covered in blood.

According to court paperwork, she: “Sustained upwards of 25 puncture wounds to her chest, head, face and arms.”

“The vehicle was the crime scene. The vehicle was driven here by the suspect,” said Lt. Aaron Boisvert with the Hartford Police Department.

In an interview with police, “Grajalez stated that he has been planning on murdering Jane Doe for several days.”

He told investigators he discovered she had been having an affair with another man. Grajalez told police that on Sunday. He got her food and then took her to the parking lot of a business on Murphy Road in Hartford. It was there that he began stabbing her with a knife.

He confessed he: “Waited for her to die before driving to the Hartford Police Department to report the incident.”

Grajalez also told police he sent a photo of the crime to the victim’s new boyfriend.

“The numbers are staggering, the incidents are increasing,” said Mary-Jane Foster.

Foster is President and CEO of the Interval house, Connecticut’s largest domestic violence agency. She says they’ve seen a 33-percent increase in need since the pandemic.

“What’s really concerning and alarming is that the intensity of the violence is increasing. There doesn’t seem to be any let up at all,” said Foster.

Interval House takes calls for help 24/7.

Grajalez is being held on a $3 million bond. That bond doubled after he went before a judge Monday. His next court date is scheduled for May 15.

Yvette Thompson Brantley said she has lived in Hartford for quite some time and witnessed similar violence firsthand.

“They were shooting where I used to stay. They shot my car up,” Yvette said. “Now it’s not just young kids, it’s older people too.”

Following Sunday’s stabbing, she said she hoped police keep the city safe during spring and summer.

“I wish my condolences to her family. I don’t [know] what to say about him, but he had to be out of his mind,” Yvette said.

After 39 homicides took place in Hartford in 2022, Boisvert said, overall, violent crime has been significantly down from a year ago.

“There will be a summer action plan, there always is,” he said. “Last year, we believe a lot of those people were violent offenders. We’d like to hope that’s the reason for homicides and shootings being lower this year but we’ll see.”

Police said the stabbing marked Hartford’s sixth homicide of 2023.