A funeral was held Saturday for 24-year-old Marisha Cheong, who had been missing since December. She was found last week washed up on a Queens beach with her hands bound. Jonathan Vigliotti reports. (Published Monday, Feb. 25, 2013)
A funeral was held Saturday for a 24-year-old missing woman whose body was discovered washed up on a Queens beach.
The body of Marisha Cheong was found last Saturday along Jamaica Bay with her hands bound. She had been missing since December. As family and friends gathered for her funeral in South Ozone Park, police continued to search for her killer.
Cheong, a Long Island University student, was remembered for her loving smile and her dream of becoming a professional party planner.
"She may have been a little woman but she wasn't weak at all. Her strength is what I admired," said Sarah Profeta, Cheong's friend since middle school. "It just breaks my heart that I'll never make another memory with her again. That's the worst part."
Cheong was living with her boyfriend, Latchman Balkaran, in Jamaica, Queens, when she went missing Dec. 19. Earlier this week, Balkaran told NBC 4 New York the two had been looking forward to the holidays and that she had left their home to go shopping when she disappeared.
"It's just very hard to imagine what could have happened to her," he said. "I just don't know what person or human being would do that to someone."
"She was everything to me," said Balkaran. "My family loved her like a daughter. My sister loved her like a sister."
Balkaran said he was about to propose to Cheong, after five years of dating. But her mother, Bibi Ali, painted a different picture of her daughter's longtime boyfriend, saying they had financial problems and that she was suspicious of him.
"He has to know what he did with her," she said. "Only he can tell me what he did with my daughter."
Balkaran responded: "I didn't have anything to do with her death. I am as lost as much as they are. They know how much I loved her."
The medical examiner is still working to determine the cause of death. Police said they have questioned Cheong's boyfriend and her family, and the investigation is ongoing.
"I really do believe we are going to get justice for her," Profeta said Saturday. "I really do believe that in my heart."
Published at 10:34 AM EST on Feb 23, 2013