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Husband who fatally stabbed Queens hairstylist in front of customers pleads guilty

Posted at 4:44 PM, Dec 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-13 17:37:59-05

A Queens man captured on surveillance in August storming into a Jackson Heights hair salon — and then repeatedly stabbing his estranged wife in front of terrified customers — pleaded guilty Friday to Manslaughter in the 1st.

The Queens District Attorney’s Office said William Rivas, 39, will face 25 years in prison when he’s sentenced in February.

“This was a horrific act of domestic violence,” Acting DA John Ryan noted, “where the defendant… in front of horrified onlookers… took out his anger against his wife at her place of business, by mercilessly stabbing her to death.”

The victim was Carmen Iris Santiago, 35, who left behind two children.

PIX11 learned that a week before the August 7 stabbing, Rivas had tried to strangle his wife during an earlier argument.

Rivas had only been released from a Pennsylvania prison in May 2019, after serving several years behind bars for harassing another woman.

Rivas and Carmen Iris Santiago had married in the Dominican Republic nearly twenty years ago, and Santiago initially remained behind when Rivas came to the United States.

A law enforcement source told PIX11 Rivas had a child with a woman in Philadelphia, the same woman he was convicted of harassing.

When Carmen Iris Santiago finally arrived in the United States a few years ago, William Rivas was about to do his time in the Pennsylvania prison.

Shortly before the fatal stabbing on August 7, witnesses said Rivas had been arguing with his wife inside the salon, before the owner, Lourdes Salazar, escorted him out.

Rivas was then seen pacing back and forth, outside on the sidewalk, before he raced into the salon again, pulling out a large knife and stabbing his wife multiple times.

When the mortally wounded woman slumped to the floor, a crazed Rivas fell on top of her body, sobbing until police arrived.

In the months that followed the murder, PIX11 met the salon owner, who told us the “back story” on the violence that ended her employee’s life.

CORRECTION: PIX11 News initially used an incorrect photo at the beginning of this story.