Christopher Vasquez and Daphne Abdela Were the Baby-Faced Butchers — Where Are They Now?

Christopher Vasquez was diagnosed with agoraphobia when he was just a kid. How did he become a killer?

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Mar. 21 2024, Published 3:11 p.m. ET

Polaroids of Daphne Abdela, Christopher Vasquez, and Michael McMorrow
Source: Netflix

At Michael McMorrow's funeral, his nephew spoke about the kind of man his uncle was. He referenced a time when McMorrow helped out an unhoused man named James who was trying to find shelter in New York City's Central Park. He brought James to a homeless shelter and made sure he was taken care of. "He loved and cared about all people,'' McMorrow's nephew reiterated. ''He understood the real meaning of humanity." Despite these kind words, there was also a great deal of anger at McMorrow's service.

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Many people struggled with the fact that McMorrow was horrifically murdered while drinking with two 15-year-old teenagers, per the Tampa Bay Times. While no one believes that's reason enough to be killed, McMorrow's friends and family couldn't understand why a 44-year-old man was spending time with two children. Sadly, Christopher Vasquez and Daphne Abdela would go on to brutally kill McMorrow that evening. The press dubbed them the Baby-Faced Butchers. Where are they now? Here's what we know.

Where is Christopher Vasquez now?

McMorrow was murdered in May 1997 and seven years later, the New York Post reported that Vasquez was released from Attica Correctional Facility on Jan. 21, 2004. He has remained out of the public eye since the day he walked free at the age of 22. Vasquez immediately returned to the home of his family on East 97th Street in Harlem after serving two-thirds of his sentence of 3.5–10 years.

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Michael McMorrow wearing a suit
Source: Netflix

Vasquez walked quickly into the apartment building, brushing past the press who were crowded around the entrance, attempting to speak to the newly freed young man. His father Gerardo Vasquez was angered by the media hounding his son and proceeded to smash the "flash on a New York Post photographer’s camera and traded punches with a reporter." Once he was able to gather his thoughts, Gerardo told the press that he just wanted to spend time with his son. "He paid his dues, he doesn’t owe anything more."

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A month after the murder, an article in The New York Times revealed that as a child Vasquez was diagnosed with agoraphobia. As a result, he would suffer from severe anxiety attacks. Doctors put him on "Zoloft, an antidepressant, and Lorazepam, a sedative," but they only made a small dent in his issues. His friend described him as depressed and said Vasquez confided that he suffered from "really low self-esteem." That's why it was unusual for him to have befriended Daphne Abdela.

Daphne Abdela was far more aggressive than Christopher Vasquez.

When asked why he liked spending time with Abdela, Vasquez told his friend, "I like how she acts freely. If she wants to do something, she does it." Abdela was adopted by a wealthy family. Her mother was from France and her father was from Israel, though all three spoke fluent French to each other. Family friends say they were "attentive without spoiling her." Despite, or perhaps because of, her comfortable upbringing, Abdela had a quick temper and was prone to threats of violence.

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Michael McMorrow  standing in a living room with a young girl
Source: Netflix

Abdela was also an alcoholic and had been drinking since she was about 12 years old. Her parents weren't aware of her addiction until a few months prior to the murder. She was sent to a substance abuse treatment facility in March 1997 which is where she first met McMorrow, who shared her allergy to alcohol. The next time they encountered each other was the night McMorrow was killed by Abdela and Vazquez.

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They were hanging out in Strawberry Fields, a section of Central Park ironically dedicated to John Lennon. Police believe an argument broke out when McMorrow tried to hit on Abdela, but the motive was never confirmed. McMorrow's body was found on May 23, 1997, in the Central Park Lake, per CNN. He had been stabbed repeatedly and gutted.

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Both Vasquez and Abdela were found guilty of first-degree manslaughter in December 1998 said The New York Times. This angered a lot of people who didn't understand how there was no intent involved in a death where a man was stabbed 34 times. Like Vasquez, Abdela was released from prison in January 2004. Two days after she was let out, Abdela left a note on a bench that was dedicated to McMorrow. "I’m sorry I failed you. I’m sorry for the pain I caused you and your family," the note read.

Unlike Vasquez, Abdela didn't maintain a low profile. In February 2009, the New York Post reported that she filed a lawsuit claiming she "suffered 'serious personal injuries' from an April car accident in Harlem." We do not know the outcome of this case but Abdela's continued brushes with the law, along with her volatile personality, do lend some credence to the theory that she was the person who delivered the fatal stabbing blows to McMorrow.

If you or someone you know needs help, use SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to find support for mental health and substance use disorders in your area or call 1-800-662-4357 for 24-hour assistance.

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