Hair found in slain diplomat`s hands: NYC police

The body of César Mercado was discovered inside his apartment by his driver.

New York: A Nicaraguan diplomat found dead in his apartment was grasping hair in both hands that investigators were analysing and at least some of his wounds appeared to have been self-inflicted, police said on Friday.

Investigators haven`t determined whether Cesar Mercado`s death was a homicide or suicide, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

Mercado`s body was found no Thursday by a driver who had come to take him to his job at the United Nations, where Mercado was acting consul.

Mercado, 34, usually arrived by subway at about 7:30 am, but when he didn`t show up, the driver went to the apartment and discovered the door unlocked. He opened it to find Mercado`s body on the ground. His clothes were smeared in blood and he was wearing socks but no shoes. He had been stabbed and his throat had been slashed.

The bathroom sink of the studio apartment was full of blood and two knives were found, a 19-inch knife and a smaller knife inside the sink, police said.

Mercado was stabbed a dozen times in the abdomen, but it appeared from the initial autopsy that some of the wounds may have been self-inflicted, Kelly said yesterday. More investigation was needed to determine a cause of death.

Kelly described the slashes as "hesitation wounds”, meaning they were not clean, decisive wounds that are often made when someone aims to kill.

"It`s something that causes the medical examiner to pause for thought," Kelly said.

Security cameras were not working in Mercado`s Bronx apartment building, but police were canvassing the area for any other useable video. Mercado was last seen by neighbours about 3 pm on Wednesday afternoon. They also were examining cell phone records.