Friends Recall 7th St. Stabbing Victim

DSC_0526Meredith Hoffman A memorial to Christopher Jusko began to develop on East Seventh Street this week not far from the spot where his body was found Monday morning. Jairo Pastoressa has been charged with Mr. Jusko’s murder.

This article was reported by Claire Glass, Meredith Hoffman, Clint Rainey, Timothy J. Stenovec and Katie Wang. It was written by Ms. Wang.

The plan was to meet Monday afternoon at their favorite spot in the city near East 14th Street and East River Drive in front of the Con Edison plant.

There, Christopher Jusko, 21, a graffiti artist who used the city as his canvas, was planning to meet his friend Robert Traverzo, 19, and embark on yet another adventure together. Their meeting never took place. Hours before their appointment, Mr. Jusko was stabbed and killed in the East Village in a dispute over a woman, police said.

“I’ve called his phone everyday and left him a different voice mail every day to ask him to look over me,” said Mr. Traverzo, who considered Mr. Jusko his best friend. “I ask him to guide me in the right direction, to look over me, to make sure my family’s alright.”

The authorities have charged Jairo Pastoressa, 25, with the slaying. Mr. Patoressa surrendered to police and was arraigned on murder charges Tuesday. According to the prosecutor’s office, the dispute started when Mr. Jusko called Mr. Pastoressa after discovering his ex-girlfriend was dating Mr. Pastoressa.

Mr. Pastoressa invited Mr. Jusko over to his apartment at 272 East Seventh Street so they could settle their differences “like men,” prosecutors said. When Mr. Jusko showed up, authorities said Mr. Pastoressa stabbed Mr. Jusko in the neck and in the back with a kitchen knife.

The police discovered Mr. Jusko dead in a pool of his blood outside of the building at about 5:30 a.m. The ex-girlfriend, who has not been identified, arrived at Mr. Pastoressa’s apartment moments before Mr. Jusko arrived, prosecutors said.

One of Mr. Pastoressa’s neighbors, John Bonilla, said that a friend of Mr. Pastoressa’s family indicated that Mr. Pastoressa told investigators that he was acting in self-defense.

This week, a small memorial of flowers and tributes cropped up outside of the apartment building where Mr. Jusko was killed. As neighbors and friends who knew Mr. Jusko prepare for his funeral service Saturday, many of them said that they are still trying to make sense of the violent ending to a troubled life.

Raised in Stuyvesant Town, Mr. Jusko was athletic, playing baseball and soccer for Peter Stuyvesant Little League and basketball for the Epiphany School, said childhood friend Joey Acer.

Jairo Pastoressa_2Jairo Pastoressa, 25, has been charged with the murder of Mr. Jusko.

Mr. Acer and Mr. Jusko became friends in the fifth grade, riding their bikes through the Lower East side together. The pair grew apart when Jusko attended The Summit School in Nyack. The school, according to another student, Brianna Hussey, 19, was one big family full of students who battled emotional demons or substance abuse problems.

Tall, brash and a little misguided, Mr. Jusko, said students, was no different from other teens who were trying to navigate the ups and downs of their adolescence.

“When it comes down to it, he was just a really lost person,” said Ms. Hussey, who now attends the School of Visual Arts. “He was charismatic, funny and intelligent. He was very smart and just totally mixed up.”

Ms. Hussey recalled that Mr. Jusko instigated arguments and provoked other students, but she felt his behavior was a manifestation of the troubles in his life.

“When I saw him in his private moments, when he was alone, he was kind of” – she paused – “a totally different person when he’s alone,” she said. “It almost kind of really seems like almost two different people at times.”

Kathryn Taveras, 21, another student at the Summit School, said Mr. Jusko spoke of a close relationship to his mother, who lives in Stuyvesant Town.

“He had a good relationship with her,” Ms. Taveras said. “He used to tell us his mom’s vegan and she used to eat all this weird stuff.”

The relationship, however, faltered about four years ago, when he abruptly left Stuyvesant Town. Mr. Jusko moved to Brooklyn and had been living in Bushwick for four months before he was killed.

IMG_8343Timothy J. Stenovec Prosecutors said Mr. Jusko was stabbed in the neck and in the back with a kitchen knife.

Mr. Traverzo met Mr. Jusko a little over a year ago and hung out with him three times a week. Mr. Jusko looked out for Mr. Traverzo, who lost his niece, grandfather and his apartment in the span of one year.

“I actually spoke to Upski on Sunday afternoon,” Mr. Traverzo said, using Mr. Jusko’s nickname. “He called me asking me if I was alright. If I needed a few dollars to eat, he would feed me if I needed it.”

Mr. Jusko was looking for a job months before he was killed, said Mr. Jusko’s roommate Ray Pascarella, 39. When he wasn’t searching for a job, he passed time watching horror movies and classics. He took a special interest in movies about New York City.

Mr. Jusko escaped his troubles as a graffiti artist, tagging the city landscape with a crew of friends. He spent most of his time marking up walls in the Lower East side.

“Chris had many dreams and gifts, such as drawing,” Mr. Acer said in an e-mail message. “He was a great artist as well as a great person and a loyal friend. I will always remember Christopher Jusko as a great person and friend he was to all of us. It is a shame how his life was ended.”

The day before he died, Mr. Pascarella said Mr. Jusko was bothered over a woman named Gabby.

Mr. Jusko and Mr. Pascarella spent five hours talking about problems with his family and his love life. Hours later, after Mr. Jusko was killed, Mr. Pascarella peeked at Mr. Jusko’s Facebook page.

“Gabby love of my life just call me,” Mr. Pascarella said, recalling a post. “It was heartbreaking. I guess she just dropped him like a hot potato and did some bad stuff to him. He was just kind of upset about her.”

Mr. Pascarella didn’t expect to see the emotional plea on Facebook.

“He was bothered by Gabby but he seemed like he was taking it in stride,” he said. “I was surprised to see that Facebook entry that he made to her. He was covering up really well.”