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Butchered Stripper Mourned

NY- A sad-eyed photograph of slain stripper Catherine Woods was a mute witness yesterday looking out on the upper East Side bedroom where she was butchered.

The Daily News got a glimpse of the apartment where the 21-year-old Ohio woman lived and died as police let her longtime boyfriend return to their hometown of Columbus for Woods’ memorial service.

David Haughn, 23, was expected to join other mourners at the Linworth United Methodist Church today where the Ohio State University marching band, which Woods’ grieving dad directs, was to play the funeral march.

There were few visible signs in Apartment 2D of the building on E. 86th St. that this was where Woods’ dreams of becoming a Broadway dancer were snuffed out forever.

The futon in the living room was covered with clutter. The bathroom door was ajar and personal items lay on the floor beside a hamper. Pots sat on a cold stove.

But there was an intriguing notation on the kitchen wall calendar on Nov. 27, the date of the murder. It read: “10:45 a.m. service, 324 Lafayette St., 7th Fl., Yoga Center.”

Paul Cortez, the long-haired lead singer of a rock band called Monolith and Haughn’s rival for Woods’ affection, works as a yoga instructor at a local gym. He and Woods were seen there practicing ballroom dancing steps.

The calendar reference, however, seemed to be referring to Creative Life Church services, which are held Sundays at a yoga studio on Lafayette St.

“I don’t remember her,” said Judith Byrd-Bullock, who was the featured speaker at last Sunday’s service. “Such a tragedy.”

It was Haughn, a wannabe rapper who worked as a doorman and lived with Woods, who called cops Sunday night and said he found her with her throat slashed.

He told investigators he had gone to fetch his car to drive Woods to the strip joint where the brunette beauty danced under the name Ava to make ends meet.

Police have questioned Haughn and Cortez, 25, of East Harlem. There was no sign of forced entry. But while Woods fought for her life, neither man had a scratch on them, sources say. And neither has been charged with a crime.

Detectives yesterday were spotted a few doors down from 355 E. 86th St. viewing surveillance videotapes taken at another building. They declined to comment.

Investigators are still trying to determine who called Woods from a cell phone seven times in succession just before she was murdered, sources said.


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