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Jamaica biz may yield clues to 1998 murder

A search in a Jamaica plumbing and heating supply store may provide the answer to a question that has haunted a Brooklyn woman for nearly 12 years: Who killed my sister?

Police are looking for the body of Kristine Kupka, a pregnant 28-year-old Baruch College philosophy student who vanished in 1998, at C&B Plumbing & Heating Supplies on Liberty Avenue in Jamaica, and the search has given Kathy Kupka hope that she may finally learn what happened to her incredibly smart and vivacious sibling.

“I want them to find her,” Kathy Kupka, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, said. “I’ve been ready since the day she went missing. I’ve been ready for them to find her and find out what happened.”

Kristine Kupka disappeared in 1998 after telling her sister she was going to see Darshanad “Rudy” Persaud’s apartment that he had just rented in Queens. Police have said Persaud, Kristine Kupka’s former professor and married lover whose child she was carrying, became a prime suspect but no evidence was ever found to charge him with a crime and he was never arrested.

Persaud, who had been Kristine Kupka’s chemistry instructor at Baruch, is now a dentist in Florida.

A man who answered the phone at Persaud’s practice hung up the phone when asked for a comment on Kristine Kupka.

Police have received anonymous tips that Kristine Kupka’s body was hidden underneath the Liberty Avenue store that had been an auto-supply shop run by Persaud’s cousin, who refused to let authorities search his store. Using a search warrant to explore the auto store was never an option because police never had any concrete evidence to go on, Kathy Kupka said.

The store recently was leased to the Nathoo family, who opened up C&B Plumbing & Heating Supplies and allowed police to conduct the search that began last week. Police did not say how long they planned to look for Kristine Kupka’s remains. Officials found bone fragments at the site this week, but a round of testing showed the pieces were not human, the New York Post reported.

“Someone’s child died, and if the body is here, the family should know and be able to have a proper burial,” said Roger Nathoo, a Floral Park resident who owns the plumbing and heating store.

Officials have dug a 20-by-20 hole that is 4 feet to 6 feet deep in the back of the store to search for the body, Nathoo said, and authorities have kept a 24-hour watch so no one could tamper with the evidence — something Kathy Kupka is worried may have already happened.

Several years after her sister disappeared, Kathy Kupka said she was alerted that individuals may have moved the body from the basement of the auto store.

“We had a tip from people in a cement company, and I believe they took her out of there,” Kathy Kupka said. “I’m hoping there’s other evidence in there.”

Kathy Kupka has learned to grasp on to the smallest sliver of hope in the unending search to discover what happened to her baby sister, a woman who was planning on majoring in philosophy at Baruch and who never failed to make those around her laugh.

“She was a really good, funny, kind, concerned individual who something horrible happened to with no fault of her own,” Kathy Kupka said.

Kristine Kupka was “super progressive, really smart and interested in politics and societal issues” and had no idea the man with whom she had become involved had recently gotten married until she became pregnant, she said. After she became pregnant, Kathy Kupka said Persaud repeatedly tried to get her sister to have an abortion.

“She wanted to have a baby,” Kathy Kupka said. “She was happy to have a baby without a father actually, because then she could do things her way, and I had said if she worked I could help take care of the baby.”

Kristine Kupka disappeared after telling her sister she was going to see Persaud’s new apartment, which he said he was going to live in without his wife. According to Kathy Kupka, Persaud immediately hired a lawyer after her sister vanished and never once contacted the family to see where Kristine Kupka was or how the search for her was going.

Last year, Kristine Kupka’s mother died of cancer without ever finding out what happened to her daughter.

“One person out there can help us if they just talk,” Kathy Kupka said. “We know there’s a whole host of people who know what happened. Just one person can help us.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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