As the holiday season gets into full swing, crowds across New York are making the most of the festive season, whether visiting the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, skating at Central Park’s ice rink or spending time with family and friends.
But for one family, a holiday party has ended in unfathomable tragedy – and a Christmas season ahead without their loved one.
It was the night of 30 November and Jaclyn Elmquist was celebrating the holidays with colleagues at a work party in Chelsea.
She then vanished after leaving the event – and, hours later, her body was found at the bottom of a trash chute in a luxury Manhattan condo building.
Amid the horror, many questions remain unanswered around what happened to the 24-year-old woman: How did she end up in the trash compactor? How did she die? And was foul play involved?
Here’s what we know so far:
Disappearance after a holiday party
Elmquist went missing on the night of 30 November after a holiday party near Chelsea Market.
According to her family, who live in Minnesota, the 24-year-old was at a party with her colleagues at Manhattan-based recruitment agency Mission Staffing.
She was last seen getting into a yellow cab at Catch Steak on West 16th Street and Ninth Avenue, a missing persons poster revealed.
But, the 24-year-old failed to make it home to Crown Heights, Brooklyn, sparking fears for her safety.
Unable to contact her, Elmquist’s concerned family members raised the alarm, urging anyone with information to come forward.
“My cousin Jackie Elmquist has been missing since last night after she left a work party in Manhattan – she didn’t come home or show up for work this morning please spread the word so people in the area can see it since all of her family lives here in Minnesota,” her cousin Kat posted on X.
“We believe her phone is still in that area of Manhattan,” the missing poster added.
Chilling final footage
Chilling footage has revealed the last known movements of the 24-year-old.
Surveillance footage, obtained by NBC New York, captures Elmquist stumbling down West 28th Street in Chelsea at around 11.45pm on Thursday, after leaving the holiday party.
In the video, she is seen swaying and clutching the doorways and walls of buildings along the sidewalk. Elmquist also appears to try to open doors along the way before she is seen appearing to enter one building.
This is believed to be the last time she was seen alive.
At around 3pm on Friday, emergency services were called to the luxury +Art condo building at 540 West 28th Street after the body of a woman was found at the bottom of a garbage chute in the basement.
A building employee reportedly made the harrowing discovery when they went to take out the trash.
Police and EMTs rushed to the building but the 24-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene.
The identity of the woman was not immediately clear.
On Sunday, the NYPD confirmed that the body found in the trash compactor belongs to Elmquist.
What happened to Jaclyn Elmquist?
Elmquist’s cause and manner of death remain a mystery, with several questions still unanswered as to what happened to her.
Elmquist did not live in the building where she was found and it remains unclear how she may have gained access to it and how she could have then ended up in the chute.
However, law enforcement officials so far believe there is no sign of foul play.
A police source told The New York Post that “it hasn’t been determined if she was intoxicated but it’s a possibility”.
The 24-year-old’s devastated family has described her death as “tragic” and a “bad situation”.
Speaking to The New York Post outside his daughter’s apartment in Crown Heights on Sunday, her father James Elmquist broke down.
“We’re going through Jackie’s things now. It’s tragic and, uh, it’s just a bad situation I can’t really talk,” he said.
The New York City medical examiner’s office will carry out an autopsy to determine Elmquist’s cause and manner of death.
The Independent has reached out to the NYPD for further information.