<![CDATA[NBC New York - Crime and Courts]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcnewyork.com/feature/crime-and-courts http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.comen-usSat, 25 Mar 2017 21:40:15 -0400Sat, 25 Mar 2017 21:40:15 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Jurors See Suspect Talk to Cops in Deadly Carjacking Trial]]> Wed, 22 Mar 2017 19:12:32 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/THOMPSON+MALL+CARJACKING+MURDER+TRIAL+FOR+WEB+-+00000403_WNBC_0.jpg

In the continuing trial of the accused getaway driver in a deadly New Jersey mall carjacking three years ago, jurors saw the suspect's initial statements to police after his arrest.

Basim Henry made the statement to detectives a day after his arrest in the deadly carjacking of Dustin Friedland at The Malls at Shore Hills in December 2013. He admitted hearing two gunshots in the mall parking deck.

And then, he said, after Friedland's Range Rover was driven out of the mall, he told the alleged gunman it was only supposed a strong-arm carjacking.

"I says something's f----- up," Henry says on the videotape. "He says he shot him. He shot him."

Over and over, the two detectives grill Henry after reading him his Miranda rights, video shows. The lead detective had taken some of Henry's clothing at arrest, even his thermal underwear.

Finally, detectives get a statement out of him after Henry refers to a scuffle: "What did I say to him? I say, 'Why the f--- you do that.' He says, 'What the f--- you gonna do?'"

Henry sat calmly in court Wednesday, showing no emotion as his statement was played.

Photos of the stolen Range Rover next to an abandoned house were also shown to the jury.

Dustin Friedland, a young attorney in Hoboken, was shot and killed in the parking lot at The Malls at Short Hills just 10 days before Christmas in 2013.

Friedland's widow, Jamie Schare Friedland, gave emotional testimony about the sudden ambush and the harrowing wait for help, and state Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Falzon testified that Friedland died of a gunshot wound to the head in a homicide.

Henry, along with Hanif Thompson, of Irvington, and Newark residents Karif Ford and Kevin Roberts have pleaded not guilty to felony murder and other charges in connection with the carjacking.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Exclusive: NYPD Hatchet Attack Survivors Talk to News 4]]> Thu, 07 May 2015 17:51:22 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000007039683_1200x675_440437827788.jpg The four officers who were attacked in Queens last October speak exclusively to News 4's Jonathan Dienst.]]> <![CDATA[Authorities Smash NYC Drug Trafficking Ring, Arrest Dozens]]> Wed, 15 Mar 2017 19:08:47 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/narcotics+trafficking.jpg

Authorities broke up a major drug-dealing operation in the Bronx on Wednesday, arresting dozens of people on charges ranging from heroin trafficking to firearms possession to murder. 

Most of the 40 people arrested are gang members who were allegedly trafficking cocaine, heroin and marijuana, according to law enforcement sources and charging documents filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan.

The defendants -- with street names like "Floss," "Chuck Dollarz," "Green Eyes," "All In," "Chunky" and "Dayday" -- conspired from 2010 through as recently as this month to traffic and distribute drugs, the government said. (The indictment bore the signature of Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney who was fired by President Trump last week.)

In addition to the broader drugs and weapons charges, four of the defendants also face murder charges over the Dec. 11, 2016 shooting death of a man in the Bronx. 

The NYPD worked alongside Homeland Security Investigations in the probe. 

The bust comes just two days after Mayor de Blasio unveiled a new plan to cut opioid-related deaths in the city by more than a third over five years, using a combination of law enforcement and treatment.

The law enforcement sources said, however, that Wednesday's takedown was not tied to the mayor's initiative. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Mayor de Blasio Won't Face Charges in Fundraising Probes]]> Thu, 16 Mar 2017 19:58:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/TLMD-bill-de-blasio-st-generica.jpg

State and federal prosecutors cleared Mayor de Blasio Thursday in two separate, long-running probes into campaign financing and favors for donors.

Addressing the matter at a news briefing Thursday afternoon, de Blasio said the conclusions reached by investigators in both probes validate the position his administration has long maintained.

"My staff and my colleagues and I have acted in a manner that was legal and appropriate and ethical throughout," the mayor said. "This is something I feel very strongly about in public service, that we have to comport ourselves in a proper manner and we have done that and that has been confirmed by the results of this investigation."

The surprise announcements, issued just minutes apart, were a major victory for the mayor, who is up for re-election this year. Recent polls give him a commanding lead, even as they also showed deep-seated voter skepticism about whether he had done anything wrong. 

The Manhattan district attorney's office said it was ending a probe into whether the mayor and associates improperly funneled campaign donations toward upstate Senate races.

A letter from District Attorney Cy Vance to the state's Board of Elections said the activities of de Blasio's associates "appear contrary to the intent and spirit of the laws that impost candidate contribution limits," but that they could not be prosecuted nonetheless. 

Minutes after Vance's statement, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan said it was also ending a separate investigation into whether official favors were done for campaign donors.

"Although it is rare that we issue a public statement about the status of an investigation, we believe it appropriate in this case at this time, in order not to unduly influence the upcoming campaign and Mayoral election," Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said in a statement. 

De Blasio shied away from linking Kim's decision to last week's firing of the prosecutor's predecessor, Preet Bharara. 

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<![CDATA[12 Indicted in $12M Scheme to Sell Stolen Products on Amazon]]> Wed, 15 Mar 2017 14:39:22 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/amazon+generic.jpg

Twelve people have been indicted in a multimillion-dollar scheme to steal merchandise from retail stores in 28 states, including New York, and resell the stolen products on Amazon and eBay, officials said Wednesday.

The alleged thieves resold at least $12 million in merchandise stolen from stores like Staples, Best Buy and Office Depot in New York City and across the nation since 2012, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.

He called the takedown one of the "largest-ever busts of a retail theft ring."

Over the course of the 10-month probe, dubbed "Operation Sticky Fingers," investigators seized more than 5,300 stolen electronics and ink cartridges from alleged members of the criminal enterprise. Nearly $8 million was taken from the defendants' homes, banks and Amazon and PayPal accounts.

The accused kingpin of the scheme, 64-year-old Richard Rimbaugh, who goes by the name "the General," has allegedly been directing theft crews and reselling stolen goods for more than two decades, Schneiderman said.

According to the indictment, Rimbaugh allegedly instructed crews of thieves to steal specific printer cartridges, computer software and other retail electronics based on their resell value. He typically paid the crews 30 to 50 percent of the retail value for the stolen merchandise, the indictment alleges. 

Rimbaugh then allegedly resold the stolen merchandise on the internet through his illegitimate business, American Media Soft, which he operated out of his Manhattan apartment. Five packages of stolen merchandise arrived at Rimbaugh's home as investigators executed the search warrant, Schneiderman says.

Over the 20 years of the ring’s operation, Rimbaugh is accused of reinvesting roughly half of the proceeds into the criminal enterprise in the form of cash payments to the theft crews.

Information on an attorney for him wasn't immediately available.

The suspects, men and women from New York to Las Vegas who range in age from 22 to 64, were arrested Tuesday in connection with the sweeping 41-count indictment. They are charged with enterprise corruption, money laundering, criminal possession of stolen property and conspiracy, and face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.  

The investigation was conducted by the attorney general’s Organized Crime Task Force with support from the New York State Police. Neither Amazon nor eBay could immediately be reached for comment on the takedown.  

One of the main suspects named in the indictment is also charged in a separate case with welfare fraud conspiracy for allegedly helping a woman illegally obtain housing benefits from the Nassau County Department of Social Services.



Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Paterson Mayor Joey Torres Surrenders in Corruption Probe]]> Wed, 15 Mar 2017 15:29:38 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/DIENST+MAYOR+ARRESTED+PATERSON+NJ+PKG+6P+-+01000015_WNBC_000000.jpg

Paterson Mayor Joey Torres surrendered to authorities Monday to face charges in connection with a state corruption investigation.

Torres, indicted last week on charges of theft, misconduct, tampering with public records and other offenses, had been permitted to surrender at an agreed time. He did so just before noon. Three public works supervisors also indicted in the case surrendered to authorities last week; they've also been suspended without pay, according to city councilman Andre Sayegh.

The mayor of New Jersey's third-largest city was the subject of months of I-Team reporting on municipal workers being paid to do private jobs for him and his relatives. Torres and the three indicted workers all deny wrongdoing.

Last week, Torres issued a statement saying, "I fully intend to vigorously defend myself against these allegations, and I look forward to the opportunity to present all of the facts in a court of law. I am confident when the full story is told, I will be vindicated." 

First elected to Paterson's city council in 1990, Torres became mayor in 2002 and was re-elected in 2006. The Democrat lost a bid for a third term in 2010 but re-gained his seat in 2014.

Through much of 2016, Torres refused to answer questions about a series of I-Team stories that appeared to show city employees doing private jobs for him, from washing his scooter and building bookshelves to doing construction at his nephew's would-be beer business.

When the I-Team caught up with him before the first report in March 2016, Torres said in an email no employees had ever done private jobs for him while on overtime. "Please be advised that at no time has any city employee, on city time, or overtime, or paid with taxpayer dollars, ever performed work for me at my home, or anywhere else," he wrote.

The I-Team later obtained records that seem to show at least eight employees had indeed been earning overtime during the same periods they were seen on camera doing private work at the mayor's home and the planned beer business. But the mayor never responded to requests for further explanation. 

Torres is the second prominent New Jersey mayor to face criminal charges in the last few months. In an unrelated case, Passaic Mayor Alex Blanco pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges on Nov. 18 and resigned from office.

A concurrent federal investigation into Torres is underway, the I-Team has reported, but there have been no charges in that probe. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Indicted Mayor Goes to City Hall, DPW Worker Turns Self In]]> Wed, 08 Mar 2017 22:33:02 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/DIENST+MAYOR+ARRESTED+PATERSON+NJ+PKG+6P+-+01000015_WNBC_000000.jpg

Paterson Mayor Joey Torres appears to be taking his time turning himself in, one day after he and three city workers were indicted in a state corruption investigation. 

Torres stayed away from news cameras outside his home Wednesday, and was picked up around the corner before heading to City Hall. For now, that's where he appears to be staying, protected in his second-floor office by security.

He's not legally bound to turn himself in right away, but it's frustrating to residents who first voted him out of office seven years ago before he got his seat back in 2014. 

"How much more damage will the community suffer behind the moves that are made by this administration?" said Lynda Gallashaw, a citizen activist who tried to launch a recall vote of the mayor last year. "We're not satisfied at all. We're told that we're broke, that we're in debt -- and yet jobs are being handed out." 

Meanwhile, Paterson Department of Public Works employee Joseph Mania surrendered at the state police barracks in Totowa Wednesday. 

He, along with Timothy Hanlon and Imad Elmowaswes, allegedly performed private jobs at a warehouse owned in part by Torres' daughter while on the city's time. 

Mania's attorney, Ray Flood, told News 4 his client will plead not guilty and that they were looking forward to going to court. 

The mayor of New Jersey's third-largest city was the subject of months of I-Team reporting on municipal workers being paid to do private jobs for him and his relatives. 

"This is a case of old-school public corruption and abuse of power," Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said at a news conference announcing the charges Tuesday. "Mayor Torres allegedly treated city workers like his personal handymen, treated taxpayer dollars like his own."

Torres released a statement Tuesday saying, "I fully intend to vigorously defend myself against these allegations, and I look forward to the opportunity to present all of the facts in a court of law. I am confident when the full story is told, I will be vindicated." 

First elected to Paterson's city council in 1990, Torres became mayor in 2002 and was re-elected in 2006. The Democrat lost a bid for a third term in 2010 but re-gained his seat in 2014.

Through much of 2016, Torres refused to answer questions about a series of I-Team stories that appeared to show city employees doing private jobs for him, from washing his scooter and building bookshelves to doing construction at his nephew's would-be beer business.

When the I-Team caught up with him before the first report in March 2016, Torres said in an email no employees had ever done private jobs for him while on overtime. "Please be advised that at no time has any city employee, on city time, or overtime, or paid with taxpayer dollars, ever performed work for me at my home, or anywhere else," he wrote.

The I-Team later obtained records that seem to show that at least eight employees had indeed been earning overtime during the same periods they were seen on camera doing private work at the mayor's home and the planned beer business. But the mayor never responded to requests for further explanation. 

Torres is the second prominent New Jersey mayor to face criminal charges in the last four months. In an unrelated case, Passaic Mayor Alex Blanco pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges on Nov. 18 and resigned from office.

A concurrent federal investigation into Torres is underway, the I-Team has reported, but there have been no charges in that probe. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Paterson Mayor Torres Hit With Corruption Charges]]> Wed, 08 Mar 2017 02:58:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/DIENST+MAYOR+ARRESTED+PATERSON+NJ+PKG+6P+-+01000015_WNBC_000000.jpg

Paterson Mayor Joey Torres and three employees of the city's public works department were hit with state corruption-related charges Tuesday, hours after the I-Team first reported they would be indicted. 

The mayor of New Jersey's third-largest city was the subject of months of I-Team reporting on municipal workers being paid to do private jobs for him and his relatives. 

"This is a case of old-school public corruption and abuse of power," Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said at a news conference announcing the charges Tuesday. "Mayor Torres allegedly treated city workers like his personal handymen, treated taxpayer dollars like his own."

The six-count indictment unsealed Tuesday include charges of conspiracy, official misconduct and tampering with public records against Torres and three workers, Joseph Mania, 51; Timothy Hanlon, 30; and Imad Elmowaswes, 52.

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Shortly after the charges were announced, Torres stood next to his executive assistant on the steps of City Hall as she read from a prepared statement attributed to him. 

"I am extremely disappointed and surprised that the Attorney General has elected to pursue this case and file these charges against me today," the statement said. 

It went on to say that Torres and his attorneys had been speaking with the attorney general's office and "were in the process of addressing certain issues they raised when we were notified at the last possible moment that the state would be unsealing an indictment today." 

"I fully intend to vigorously defend myself against these allegations, and I look forward to the opportunity to present all of the facts in a court of law," Torres' statement said. "I am confident when the full story is told, I will be vindicated." 

First elected to Paterson's city council in 1990, Torres became mayor in 2002 and was re-elected in 2006. The Democrat lost a bid for a third term in 2010 but re-gained his seat in 2014.

Through much of 2016, Torres refused to answer questions about a series of I-Team stories that appeared to show city employees doing private jobs for him, from washing his scooter and building bookshelves to doing construction at his nephew's would-be beer business.

When the I-Team caught up with him before the first report in March 2016, Torres said in an email no employees had ever done private jobs for him while on overtime. "Please be advised that at no time has any city employee, on city time, or overtime, or paid with taxpayer dollars, ever performed work for me at my home, or anywhere else," he wrote.

[[389933611, C]]

The I-Team later obtained records that seem to show that at least eight employees had indeed been earning overtime during the same periods they were seen on camera doing private work at the mayor's home and the planned beer business. But the mayor never responded to requests for further explanation. 

Torres is the second prominent New Jersey mayor to face criminal charges in the last four months. In an unrelated case, Passaic Mayor Alex Blanco pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges on Nov. 18 and resigned from office.

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Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Alleged Killer Mouths 'You Know I Love You' to Victim's Mom]]> Sun, 05 Mar 2017 14:55:32 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/cold+case+arraignment.jpg

The man accused of killing and dismembering a 19-year-old Brooklynite in 2005, then dumping some of his body parts in a subway tunnel, mouthed, 'You know I love you,' twice to the victim's mother as she sat in Brooklyn court for the suspect's arraignment Friday. 

Kwauhuru Govan, 38, arrested in late February in the cold-case death of Rashawn Brazell, pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder. 

Desire Brazell was sitting in the second row of the courtroom when Govan was led in and out. The first time he commented, she closed her eyes, sighed and grasped something tightly in her hand. 

When she came out of court, she grabbed a table and shook her head, but said nothing to reporters. 

A defense attorney said Govan and Desiree Brazell are related by marriage, but the district attorney's office said it had no information to support that claim. 

Desiree Brazell fought for years to keep her son's name in the news as investigators hunted for his killer. She has described her son as a promising young man with a nose for fashion with a magnetic personality. 

Rashawn Brazell was last seen leaving his mother's Bushwick apartment in February 2005. Days after he disappeared, two MTA workers found a bloodied plastic bag with a foot and other body parts in a tunnel leading to the Nostrand Avenue station. More remains were located at a recycling hub for subway trash. 

The judge denied the defense request for bail Friday and Govan was remanded. At his last hearing, he caused an uproar in the court, flailing and screaming about being framed as officers had to hold him down. Friday's court appearance went far more smoothly, and Govan's attorney told NBC 4 New York he had explicitly asked his client not to act out. 

Govan is due back in court in May in the Brazell case. 

He is also accused of murder in another slaying, the 2004 death of 17-year-old Sharabia Thomas. Thomas' naked body was found inside two laundry bags on the side of alleyway near 130 Palmetto St. in Bushwick on Feb. 11, 2004. Govan was arrested in November based on new DNA evidence.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Yonkers Man Pleads Guilty in Deadly DWI Collision]]> Tue, 28 Feb 2017 22:55:58 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/liam+perry.JPG

A Yonkers man has pleaded guilty in a head-on collision that killed another driver last August, according to the Westchester County District Attorney's office.

Prosecutors say Liam Perry had a blood alcohol level over three times the legal limit when he collided head-on into Pedro Martinez's vehicle at Palmer Road and Sunnybrook Road the night of Aug. 11. 

Both Perry and Martinez were taken to Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx; Martinez was later pronounced dead. 

Perry's BAC was determined to be .27 percent. 

Perry pleaded guilty Tuesday to vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated, along with other vehicle and traffic violations. 

He faces a maximum of 15 years in state prison when he's sentenced April 4. 



Photo Credit: Westchester County District Attorney]]>
<![CDATA[Man Arrested in Threats Against ADL, 7 Other Jewish Centers]]> Fri, 03 Mar 2017 21:05:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Juan+Thompson.jpg

A man allegedly waging an intense campaign of harassment against a former lover was responsible for bomb threats against the Anti-Defamation League and some Jewish centers around the country, authorities said Friday.

Thirty-year-old Juan Thompson, a former journalist fired last year for allegedly making up quotes and sources, was arrested in St. Louis in connection with multiple threats against Jewish centers, including some in the tri-state area. 

But additional sources told NBC News Thompson is not believed to be the person behind the series of threats targeting Jewish community centers across the nation in recent months. 

There have been five such waves of threats this year, forcing dozens of evacuations in more than 30 states. No injuries have been reported in any of the cases and no devices have been found. The FBI is assisting in that probe.

In total, authorities have been looking into more than 120 bomb threats called into nearly 100 JCC schools, child care and other similar facilities.  

Thompson is considered a "copycat," the sources said. A criminal complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan indicated that Thompson was trying to "harass and intimidate" an unnamed victim with whom he had a relationship. 

He allegedly made at least eight of the threats -- some in the victim's name, and some in his own name, as part of a purported campaign to smear the victim. Thompson allegedly went to extreme lengths to do so, including sending hoax faxes to the woman's employer last year alleging she had made anti-Semitic statements on social media, according to the complaint. 

He was allegedly behind a threat to the national ADL headquarters in Manhattan last week. According to the FBI complaint, the emailed threat named the woman and said she was "behind the bomb threats against the jews. She lives in nyc and is making more bomb threats tomorrow." The next day, the ADL received a phone call claiming a bomb was in its headquarters.

He also claimed she was responsible for placing a bomb in a Jewish center in Dallas, and emailed a JCC in San Diego saying she wanted to "kill as many Jews asap," the complaint says.

An anonymous threat emailed to a JCC in Manhattan early in February included Thompson's own name. It said he "put two bombs in the office of the Jewish center today. He wants to create Jewish newtown tomorrow," the complaint said. "Newtown" apparently refers to the December 2012 massacre at a Connecticut school that claimed the lives of 26 people, including 20 children.

The FBI complaint quotes Thompson’s Twitter post on Feb. 24 that says, “Know any good lawyers? Need to stop this nasty/racist #whitegirl I dated who sent a bomb threat in my name & wants me to be raped in jail.” 

The exact same tweet on the same date appears on the Twitter account @JuanMThompson. That same account sent a number of other tweets in late February that match the FBI complaint word for word. 

Juan Thompson wrote for online publication The Intercept from late 2014 until early 2016, when he was fired for fabricating sources and quotes in his articles, according to Betsy Reed, editor-in-chief. 

In a statement Friday, Reed said everyone at The Intercept was "horrified" to learn of Thompson's arrest in the bomb threats case.

"These actions are heinous and should be fully investigated and prosecuted," Reed said. "We have no information about the charges against Thompson other than what is included in the criminal complaint."  

Thompson is charged with one count of cyberstalking, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, in connection with the case. He is expected to be arraigned in federal court in Missouri later Friday. 

His mother, Yolanda Thompson, said from her home in St. Louis Friday that she hadn't seen her son in weeks. She tearfully described him as a "good man" and declined to comment further on his arrest.

ADL officials said the diligence of law enforcement in such a troubling time was "reassuring," at a news briefing on Friday. The group said it met with top FBI officials and others to discuss the ongoing investigation into the threats.

"There are many more JCC bomb threats that have not been solved, and communities are hurting," one official said. "Just because there's been an arrest today around our bomb threat does not mean the threats have disappeared or will stop. Hate toward the Jewish community and other minority groups is very real and deeply disturbing." 

University City, Missouri, police Lt. Fredrick Lemons told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that detectives will question Thompson about the 154 headstones toppled last month at a Jewish cemetery in the St. Louis suburb. He declined to say whether Thompson was considered a suspect.

Information on an attorney for him wasn't immediately available. 

"Today, we have charged Juan Thompson with allegedly stalking a former romantic interest by, among other things, making bomb threats in her name to Jewish Community Centers and to the Anti-Defamation League," U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara said. "Threats of violence targeting people and places based on religion or race – whatever the motivation – are unacceptable, un-American, and criminal."

NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill thanked local and federal law enforcement for a collaborative effort. 

"The defendant allegedly caused havoc, expending hundreds of hours of police and law enforcement resources to respond and investigate these threats," O'Neill said. "We will continue to pursue those who peddle fear, making false claims about serious crimes."

The arrest comes amid an alarming increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York City and across the nation. NYPD officials said earlier this week such bias reports are up 94 percent year over year in the city. Other states have reported an increase as well.

In a statement Friday, Mayor de Blasio called on all Americans to protect the foundational values of this country.

“We must not be indifferent to the rising tide of hate crimes we’re seeing in New York City and nationwide," the mayor said. "When you attack someone because of who they are, how they worship or who they love, you are attacking our democracy."

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie ordered increased patrols at houses of worship, faith-based institutions, community centers and cemeteries throughout the state in response to the uptick in threats.  


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<![CDATA[Suspect's DNA Profile in NYC Google Worker Slaying Revealed]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 12:41:57 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/mass-runner-killed-0808.jpg

Authorities in Massachusetts say they now have a DNA profile of the person believed to have killed a 27-year-old New York City woman out running near her mother's Massachusetts home last summer.

Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early said the DNA profile shows the suspect is an athletic, light-skinned male and about 30 years old. He would have had scratches on his body following Vanessa Marcotte's Aug. 7 slaying.

The suspect is also Latino and had a shaved head based on witness descriptions, according to Early.

Marcotte, a New York City resident who worked as an account manager for Google, was in Princeton, Massachusetts, visiting her family that fateful weekend when she went on a jog, but never returned. Her body, which investigators say was naked and partially burned, was found in a remote and wooded area about a half mile away later that evening. Authorities say there were also signs she had struggled with her attacker.

State police announced in November they were searching for a dark SUV that had been parked on the side of the road where she was last seen in connection with her slaying.

Investigators have also received more than 1,300 tips to a dedicated tip line.

Meanwhile, her family spoke out days before Christmas, thanking the public for supporting them and announcing they had started a foundation in Marcotte's name that encourages her values of "giving back and volunteerism."

"Not a day goes by that we don't reflect on the enormity of her loss," Marcotte's uncle, Steven Therrien, said while reading a statement.

Marcotte's slaying came five days after a woman in Queens was murdered while on a run. Police have arrested 20-year-old Chanel Lewis after matching his DNA to samples found on 30-year-old Karina Vetrano, whom authorities said "ferociously" fought her attacker. However, police in New York and Massachusetts have added there is nothing connecting the Queens case to the case in Princeton.



Photo Credit: NECN / Handout]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Cop in Deadly Crash Declines Plea Deal, Will Go to Trial]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 20:28:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Pedro-Abad-Wreck-Inset.jpg

A former New Jersey police officer charged in a fatal wrong-way crash on Staten Island in 2015 will face a jury in a few weeks after declining a plea deal. 

"We are going to trial," Pedro Abad's lawyer said in a brief hearing Wednesday. Jury selection is now expected to begin April 10.

Abad faces eight to 25 years in prison if convicted, but was offered a plea deal for a sentence of five to 21 years. The deadline for that offer was Wednesday. 

Prosecutors say Abad was drunk when he collided with a tractor trailer on the West Shore Expressway in the morning hours of March 20, 2015. Two passengers in Abad's car were killed, including a fellow Linden, New Jersey officer.

Abad has pleaded not guilty to charges in the case. Last December, a federal judge denied a defense request to suppress Abad's blood-alcohol test results.

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<![CDATA[Man Arrested in 2005 Beheading Screams, Kicks in Court]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 20:01:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/cold+case+arraignment.jpg

A 38-year-old man arrested late last year in the 2004 slaying of a teenage girl left naked in a Brooklyn alley now faces charges in the cold-case death of a 19-year-old man whose dismembered, beheaded body was found in a subway tunnel in 2005, authorities say. 

Kwauhuru Govan was brought into Brooklyn court kicking and screaming Wednesday to face charges in the death of Rashawn Brazell, who left his mother's Bushwick apartment in February 2005 and was never seen again. Govan yelled about being framed in the case; officers had to hold onto him throughout the hearing. He is due back in court Thursday for arraignment.

"I didn't do anything, judge," Govan said. "I can't dissect a frog." 

The unsolved killing of Brazell has mystified the city for years. Days after he disappeared, two MTA workers found a bloodied plastic bag with a foot and other body parts in a tunnel leading to the Nostrand Avenue station. More remains were located at a recycling hub for subway trash. 

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said it has been a long 12 years, but his office was gratified to have an arrest in the case.

Brazell's mother, who kept his name in the news for years in a desperate effort to find his killer, said a brief "thank you" to police at a news conference Wednesday. Over the years, she has described her son as a promising young man with a nose for fashion with a magnetic personality. 

Govan was arrested in November in connection with another slaying, and after his arrest, investigators realized he had lived across the street from Brazell. At that point, a law enforcement source says they started looking at him as a possible suspect in Brazell's death. The source said investigators now believe the bloody bag they found at the crime scene in 2005 belonged to Govan. 

In November Govan was charged with murder and kidnapping charges in the 2004 killing of 17-year-old Sharabia Thomas after new DNA evidence linked him to the case, prosecutors said. Thomas' naked body was found inside two laundry bags on the side of alleyway near 130 Palmetto St. in Bushwick on Feb. 11, 2004, prosecutors said. She had suffered blunt force trauma to her head, face and torso, and had marks around her wrists and ankles indicating she had been tied up. 

DNA testing at the time turned up no results. Then, in June 2016, the NYPD cold case squad and the district attorney's forensic science unit requested another DNA testing from Thomas' fingernail clippings. This time, a full profile was developed and uploaded to the national DNA database maintained by the FBI, and turned up a match to a man arrested in 2014 for an armed robbery in Polk County, Florida, officials said. 

After Govan, formerly of Gates Avenue in Bushwick, was released from Florida prison on the robbery conviction, he was extradited to Brooklyn on the murder indictment, prosecutors said. 

Govan, who lived two blocks from Thomas' home in 2004, has denied knowing the teenager. His attorney, Fred Spiegel, suggested at the time of his arrest that the DNA could be false. Spiegel couldn't immediately be reached for comment on his arrest in the Brazell case.

Police in New York say they are working with law enforcement in other states where Govan lived over the years to determine if he may be connected to any other unsolved crimes. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Karina Vetrano Murder Suspect's Attorneys Attend Hearing]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 22:00:47 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/chanel+lewis.jpg

The 20-year-old Brooklyn man charged in the death of Karina Vetrano, the New York City runner whose beaten, strangled body was found in a Queens marsh over the summer, will face a judge again in April. 

Attorneys for Chanel Lewis attended a hearing Tuesday, though Lewis did not appear.

Jamel Reed, a former high school classmate and friend, told NBC 4 New York outside court that Lewis was "very quiet, very chill, laidback. He didn't bother anybody, he graduated, he didn't have a criminal history." 

The Legal Aid Society, which is defending Lewis, reiterated its statement that he is "entitled to fairness and due process."

Police have said DNA evidence linked Lewis to Vetrano's killing, and that he made detailed, incriminating statements to detectives. If convicted, he could face up to 25 years in prison. 

Lewis' family maintains he's innocent. 

"He's just a good guy, a wonderful guy, don't interfere with anybody," his father Richard Lewis previously said. "He's never had that problem in the 20 years I've had him in my world." 

"I raised my son to be a God-fearing man, and to respect life," mother Vita Lewis said. "My son is friendly, God-fearing, and would not hurt anybody." 


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<![CDATA[NY Mom Pleads Guilty in Case of Dead Baby in Fridge]]> Tue, 14 Feb 2017 18:03:54 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/218*120/5816deadbaby.jpg

The mother of a baby found decomposed after apparently being kept inside a refrigerator last August has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the child's death, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Deasia Bartee, 27, admitted pummeling 15-month-old Samia Rose on the back after she was arrested last summer, prosecutors say. She faces up to 25 years in prison when she's sentenced March 21. 

Samia Rose's body was found at their Mount Vernon apartment on Aug. 5, 2016, when police responded to a 911 call for a report of a child who died in her sleep, authorities said.

The toddler was found laying on her back in a playpen, her arms rigid and pointing toward the ceiling, prosecutors said. Her left eye appeared to be swollen shut, and she had no pulse and was lifeless. She was "extremely cold" to the touch. 

When she was taken to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead, the doctor told police he thought the child was unusually cold and that she may have been refrigerated since she was in an advanced state of decomposition, prosecutors said. 

The mother ultimately admitted beating her child, and an autopsy found Samia Rose died of blunt force trauma, with a broken spine and internal bleeding. She was malnourished at the time, weighing just 14 pounds as a 15-month-old. 

Prosecutors previously said that Bartee has an extensive history with child protective services. Her other two children, ages 6 and 9 have been placed with the agency.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Man Now Charged With Murder in Death of 3-Year-Old NYC Boy]]> Fri, 10 Feb 2017 14:39:00 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/boyfriend+arrest+child+beaten.jpg

A Brooklyn man now faces murder and other charges in the beating death of his girlfriend's 3-year-old son, who spent a week on life support last year before ultimately passing away. 

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced the upgraded charges against Salvatore Lucchesse, of Gravesend, Friday. The indictment comes about a week after the medical examiner ruled Jaden Jordan's death a homicide. Lucchesse had previously been charged with assault. 

Lucchesse was arraigned Friday on charges of second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and child endangerment. He was remanded and faces up to life in prison if convicted of the top count against him. An attorney for the 24-year-old Lucchesse couldn't immediately be reached Friday.

Investigators say Jordan was left home alone with Lucchesse while the boy's mother was at work for about seven and a half hours Monday, Nov. 28. At some point during that time, Jordan allegedly defecated on himself. Around 4:30 p.m., investigators say Lucchesse called 911 and reported the boy was unconscious.

Jordan, found soiled and unresponsive, was taken to Coney Hospital and then transferred to Columbia, where he remained after falling into a coma. He had suffered severe head trauma, including a fractured skull, and was removed from life support Dec. 3. He died the same day. 

Jordan's death was the subject of a scathing report from the city's Department of Investigation that found the Administration for Children's Services woefully unprepared to handle emergency cases that come up outside of normal business hours. ACS had gotten a tip on Saturday, two days before workers got to Jordan, about possible child abuse at the home, but the agency said the address was wrong and it took workers through the weekend to find him.

The DOI report rips ACS for failing to get to the boy sooner, saying its investigation found that "the depth of errors over a two-day period was so significant, and the errors involved the overall implementation of policies so basic, that they go to the heart of ACS’s core mission of protecting children and implicate high-level, systemic problems." 

According to the report, ACS agreed to form a new Emergency Children's Services Applications Unit with specialized training on database assessment. The agency will also look at caseloads within ECS and determine staffing needs. 

ACS has said an internal review found none of its staffers acted inappropriately in the Jordan case, but DOI said the agency recently said it is taking various actions against six staff members, including corrective action plans, retraining and, for some, disciplinary charges including suspension. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Prom Date Dumped Teen's Body After Pal Killed Her: Pros.]]> Wed, 08 Feb 2017 07:44:19 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/sarah+stern+preston+taylor.jpg

The high school prom date who's now a suspected accomplice in the murder of 19-year-old Sarah Stern allegedly confessed to helping his roommate dispose of her body, prosecutors said in court Tuesday.

As Preston Taylor appeared in court for a bail hearing, prosecutors said he told police last week that his roommate Liam McAtansey planned Stern's murder for six months. 

All three were hometown acquaintances in Neptune City, and McAtasney himself was a childhood friend of Stern, according to prosecutors. After Stern went missing last December, some had hoped she simply ran away after withdrawing thousands of dollars from her bank account.

But prosecutors allege McAtansey has been plotting to rob Stern before killing her. 

Taylor told police that McAtansey said to him, "I'm at the bank, I'm going to do it now, I'm going to take her out," according to Assistant Montmouth County Prosecutor Meghan Doyle.

The roommates then allegedly dumped Stern's body off the Route 35 bridge in Belmar after hiding it in the bushes behind her home for eight hours. 

Stern's clothing was found in one small safe buried on Sandy Hook, and thouands of dollars in cash in another safe buried at a Neptune park. 

When Taylor confessed to police, he showed no remorse, according to prosecutors. He had taken Stern to junior prom just a few years ago. 

"He is not concerned about what he did but about what's going to happen to him," said Doyle. 

Taylor's father, Jeremy Taylor, took the stand to plead for his son's release while awaiting trial, promising the court, "Your Honor, I will stay with him all the time." 

Ultimately, judge David Bauman ruled to keep Taylor locked up after hearing testimony about a witness fearful for his own safety. Taylor will be kept in jail unless he appeals the detention.

McAtansey, accused of the actual killing, has his detention hearing next week. 

Meanwhile, the search for Stern's body continues. Divers and helicopter units first scoured the Shark River in early December after finding Stern's fully operational car parked on the shoulder of the southbound lanes of the bridge, the keys still in the ignition, Dec. 3. 

Investigators returned there last Friday to continue looking, acknowledging that it's possible currents and tides may have swept her body out to the Atlantic, but Monmouth Prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni said at the time, "We are hoping for a miracle." 

Stern, an aspiring artist, is a graduate of Neptune High School, where she played softball and was a member of the swim team. She went to Brookdale Community College for a year, where she studied art and TV production.

A Crime Stoppers tip led police to McAtasney as their suspect, alleging he somehow knew about the cash withdrawal and came to Stern's home to rob her. McAtasney is charged with felony murder and other crimes in Stern's death; Taylor is accused of hindering apprehension and concealment of human remains, among other offenses. Both men appeared in court Thursday; it wasn't clear if either entered a plea. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Zymere Perkins' Aunts Plan $10M Suit Over His Beating Death]]> Tue, 07 Feb 2017 15:15:06 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/perkins2.jpg

Two aunts of Zymere Perkins, the Manhattan 6-year-old beaten to death after years of neglect, filed notice that they intend to sue the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the former head of the Administration for Children's Services.

Zymere died Sept. 26 after being hit repeatedly with a wooden broomstick and hung from his shirt on the back of a bathroom door by his mother's boyfriend, authorities say. The man, 42-year-old Rysheim Smith, became enraged when he saw that the boy had defecated in the living room of their Hamilton Heights apartment, according to a criminal complaint detailing the horrific abuse.

A damning mid-December report found that despite dozens of documented visits and contacts with the family, workers from ACS and the St. Luke’s preventive services agency dropped the ball, missing deadlines and failing to make sure Zymere saw a doctor.

The aunts' $10 million notice of claim, a required prelude to a formal lawsuit, was filed Tuesday morning.

"ACS and the other defendant agencies were deliberately indifferent to the abuse suffered by Zymere Perkins. They failed to take action over the course of at least five investigations that ACS itself conducted during Zymere Perkins’ life, starting on the day he was born in June of 2010," according to the claim.

City officials were not immediately available to comment on the claim. Late last year, De Blasio repeatedly decried Zymere's death and later said he would oversee an independent monitor to oversee ACS.



Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA['Needle in a Haystack': New Details Emerge in Vetrano Case]]> Tue, 07 Feb 2017 01:10:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/karina+vetrano+suspect+5.jpg

New details are emerging about how police tracked down the 20-year-old suspect accused of murdering a young runner in Queens last summer, abandoning her strangled, beaten body in a marsh in what became one of the city's highest profile crimes in recent years. 

One of the lieutenants investigating the August death of 30-year-old Karina Vetrano remembered reports of a strange man skulking around Howard Beach, where the young woman often went running, and asked an anti-crime detective from the 106th Precinct to review his notes, authorities said Monday. 

The detective came up with a name: Chanel Lewis. 

On Thursday, detectives went to the Brooklyn home where Lewis lives with his mother and asked for a DNA sample to rule him out. Lewis complied. 

Two days later, on Saturday, forensic results showed Lewis' DNA matched some of the samples taken from various investigative points on Vetrano's body. The 20-year-old man was taken into custody that evening. 

Law enforcement sources say they also clothing collected from Lewis' home in East New York, including a hat that may have been worn during the attack. 

He initially didn't speak with detectives, nor did he ask for an attorney, law enforcement sources tell NBC 4 New York. Around 5 a.m. the next morning, the sources say Lewis told one of the detectives, "I want to make things right." 

And, according to police sources, Lewis twice confessed on video, once with the NYPD and the other time during an interview with the Queens district attorney's office. 

"The defendant admitted to attacking the victim, admitted to beating her, to strangling her and dragging her body in the weeds," Queens District Attorney Michael Curtis said Sunday. 

Lewis did not, however, confess to sexually assaulting Vetrano, according to police. 

Vetrano's body was found Aug. 2 in Howard Beach. Detectives secured more than 600 DNA samples and sifted through over 250 leads from the public and 1,700 investigative reports over the course of their six-month investigation. 

At a news briefing on crime stats Monday, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said finding her alleged killer was like looking for "a needle in a haystack." 

Lewis had no prior criminal record -- only a series of summonses, including for urinating in public and being in the park after dark in Brooklyn. None of the summonses were received in Howard Beach, sources said. 

The lack of criminal history made it particularly difficult for investigators to zero in on Lewis, Boyce said. 

"Difficult cases take time but you don't stop," he said. 

Mayor de Blasio praised the NYPD's diligence. 

Lewis, meanwhile, is being held without bail after his arraignment Sunday on a charge of second-degree murder in Vetrano's death. Lewis has two attorneys through Legal Aid. His father described him as a "humble kid" who was a good student and wanted to go into social work. 

Vetrano's mother, Cathie, had harsh words for the suspect at his court appearance Sunday, nearly six months to the day her daughter's body was found. 

"He's a demon! He's a demon, he can burn in hell," Cathie Vetrano said. 

The young runner's father, Phil Vetrano, who spearheaded a grassroots social media effort to keep her name in the media, was among the search crews who found Vetrano's body. He said Sunday he was at a loss for words, but thanked police for their investigative efforts in solving his daughter's case. 

"We hoped to get to this point, one day," he said. "I am not going to say it's good, but we can move forward now. We are in a place we were never at, we know who did this." 

Lewis faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted. 

Authorities believe he snatched Vetrano near an area connecting the remote Howard Beach route she jogged to an East New York bicycle path that runs along the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn. Police said they don't believe he and Vetrano knew each other prior to the crime.


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<![CDATA[Arrest in 2005 Case Once Featured on America's 'Most Wanted']]> Mon, 06 Feb 2017 20:01:47 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tafare+berryman+jaime+rivera.jpg

An alleged gang member has been arrested on murder- and firearms-related charges in the 2005 shooting death of a promising college basketball player from Brooklyn, prosecutors announced Monday. 

Jaime Rivera, who prosecutors say is a member of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation street gang, was charged in a two-count indictment with killing Tafare Berryman as the then 23-year-old ball player at C.W. Post tried to take a friend to a hospital after a fight at a Long Island nightclub April 3, 2005. Berryman was two weeks from graduating college. 

Berryman's mother wept in court Monday as Rivera was officially charged.

"Twelve years, I've waited for this day. Twelve years," Dawn Thompson told reporters outside court. "A lot of pain, a lot of cry, a lot of anger, a lot of tears. It destroyed my whole family."

Duane Thompson, who was just 13 when his brother was killed, said, "I never thought I would see this day in my life." 

He said Rivera appeared to have no remorse in court. 

"I can never understand how someone could take someone's life and just be so emotionless," he said. "He seemed so emotionless and it just made me so sad." 

The arrest of 32-year-old Rivera, whose mother is a retired NYPD officer and whose brother is a Freeport police officer, brings closure to a case that was once featured on "America's Most Wanted."

No one from Rivera's family would comment after he was arraigned. 

Prosecutors said the alleged gunman mistakenly thought Berryman had been part of a brawl outside the club involving gang members.

Since Berryman's death, his mother has kept a shrine to her son in the family's Brooklyn home, including trophies and other symbols of what might have been. Duane Thompson brought to court a basketball signed by Berryman's C.W. Post teammates after the murder. 

"Most of the things I did was inspired by him," said Thompson. 

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Robert Capers said in a statement that gang violence has claimed too many promising young lives. 

“This case should serve as a message to all gang members, if you engage in violent gang activity, our law enforcement partners will not stop pursuing you until you are held accountable for your actions,” Capers said. 

"The mentality that an innocent person is some sort of threat to a gang member or a gang defies logic," added FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney. "A student who was out having a good time, ended up in the middle of a dangerous situation and was killed for absolutely no reason. No one deserves to die because they found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

The FBI joined the investigation when the case went cold, and helped arrest Rivera. 

Rivera has been ordered held without bail and could face the death penalty if convicted.



Photo Credit: NBC 4/Nassau County Police ]]>
<![CDATA[Man in Custody in Connection to Death of Jogger: Sources]]> Sun, 05 Feb 2017 12:46:51 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/runner-kariina-0803.jpg

A man is in custody Saturday in the death of Karina Vetrano, who was killed while jogging in a park in Queens, police sources tell NBC New York.

Vetrano, a 30-year-old avid runner, had been beaten, strangled and sexually assaulted on Aug. 2 in Howard Beach.

Detectives found the man in Brooklyn with the help of forensic evidence after looking at more than 200 suspects that fit a certain profile. Police sources say the person's DNA matches the DNA profile retrieved from Vetrano.

The man was interviewed on Tuesday, and he volunteered a DNA sample and the results came back Saturday, sources say.

Police sources say that the person in custody has an arrest history, but nothing of a sexual nature that would have made detectives focus on him specifically.

Vetrano's father Phil usually ran with her, but stayed home with an injury the day she was killed. 

A video released in September shows Vetrano jogging near her Howard Beach home the day she disappeared. Her body was later found in a marshy area just off the trail at Gateway National Recreation Area.

A GoFundMe page set up after Vetrano's death has raised nearly $290,000 toward the investigative effort. 

Her family held a rally on Thursday to mark six months since her death, and asked the state for additional DNA testing that day.

Phil Vetrano didn't immediately respond to a phone message and text seeking comment Saturday night. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York / Instagram
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<![CDATA[Investigators Seek More Answers in Missing NJ Woman Case]]> Fri, 03 Feb 2017 19:56:14 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/sarah+stern+arrest.jpg

Investigators returned to a New Jersey river Friday to continue their search for the body of Sarah Stern, the 19-year-old woman who was allegedly killed and thrown off a bridge after a botched robbery at her home in early December. 

Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni, who joined law enforcement at the Route 35 Bridge in Belmar, said the search would be difficult, but investigators were hopeful for resolution. 

"The search of the Shark River continues as we partner with the State Police and we hope to locate the remains of Sarah Ster," he said. It is possible due to oceanic currents and tides that her remains might have been swept out of the river into the Atlantic. But we are hoping for a miracle."

The search to locate Stern's remains is expected to continue into the weekend.

A day earlier, his office announced the arrests of two 19-year-old men in connection with Stern's death. One, a childhood friend named Liam McAtasney, is accused of strangling the aspiring artist. The other, Preston Taylor, is accused of helping McAtasney get rid of the body. 

Prosecutors say Taylor was also a longtime acquaintance of Stern. All three lived in Neptune City. Gramiccioni would not go into detail Friday on what evidence his office has against the defendants.

Divers and helicopter units first scoured the Shark River in early December after finding Stern's fully operational car parked on the shoulder of the southbound lanes of the bridge, the keys still in the ignition, Dec. 3. It was the day after she had last been seen. Many assumed she had jumped off. Prosecutors say some had hoped she simply ran away after withdrawing thousands of dollars from her bank account. 

A Crime Stoppers tip led police to McAtasney as their suspect, alleging he somehow knew about the cash withdrawal and came to Stern's home to rob her. McAtasney is charged with felony murder and other crimes in Stern's death; Taylor is accused of hindering apprehension and concealment of human remains, among other offenses. Both men appeared in court Thursday; it wasn't clear if either entered a plea.

No one answered the door at their respective homes Friday.

Stern's father, Michael, was in court for the initial hearing. An attorney asked media to respect the grieving father's privacy, and said Michael Stern was feeling "overwhelmed, as any parent would be." 

Stern is a graduate of Neptune High School, where she played softball and was a member of the swim team. She went to Brookdale Community College for a year, where she studied art and TV production.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Family Marks 6 Months Since Karina Vetrano's Body Was Found]]> Thu, 02 Feb 2017 09:06:58 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/runner-kariina-0803.jpg

The body of 30-year-old Karina Vetrano was found six months ago Thursday in a marshy park in Queens. The avid runner had been beaten, strangled and sexually assaulted, and though authorities have culled DNA from three investigative points, state and local databases have yet to yield a match.  

No arrests have been made in the case, which has become one of the city's highest-profile unsolved murders in recent years. On Thursday, Vetrano’s family plans to rally at the site where the young woman entered the park Aug. 2; they want officials to allow the use of familial DNA evidence to find her killer.

Familial DNA searching is currently not allowed in New York. The Vetrano family has been campaigning for months to have investigators use the technique, which uses DNA found at the scene to look for the killer's relatives.

A GoFundMe page set up after Vetrano's death has raised nearly $290,000 toward the investigative effort, and in a post Thursday morning, Vetrano's father Phil asked supporters to come out in force for the rally.  

"I just want to remind everyone that today at 4 , exactly 6 months that Karina was murdered, we will have a press conference/ rally," wrote Phil Vetrano, who was among the search crews to find his daughter's body. He normally ran with her in the park but didn't go that fateful day because of an injury. "Those of u that can come please do. It at the exact spot that KArina went in . 83 st and 164 ave . Let's show support for DNA testing."

Prosecutors and police have also asked state forensics officials to allow the technique, saying that other investigative techniques have been exhausted.

Janine Kava, a spokeswoman for the state Commission on Forensic Science, said in December that state officials will continue working to provide law enforcement with "cutting-edge tools" to solve crimes "without compromising individual protections."



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York / Instagram]]>