Investigators from the NYPD’s 25th Precinct are scratching their heads over the puzzling death of a promising high school senior discovered dead, frozen, and partially buried in snow.
A passerby discovered the body of Gregory Willis, Jr. on Sunday as it lay about 6 feet from the wall of 2140 Madison Avenue. Willis lived with his mother in the building next door at 2130 Madison Avenue. Both apartment towers are part of Harlem’s Lincoln Houses complex.
“There is no reason why my nephew is dead. There’s no reason why he should be dead,” said Willis’s great aunt Debbie Fogg.
Investigators aren’t sure how Willis ended up facedown and unconscious in the snow, but an autopsy indicates he had internal injuries consistent with a fall. The teenager’s family is convinced Willis either fell off - or was pushed off - the roof of the public housing complex.
Kashinda Cabble, a cousin of Willis, insisted he did not commit suicide.
“Absolutely not. He showed no signs of depression,” Cabble said. “How he ended up over there we don’t know. Who he went over there with we don’t know. Why or how he ended up in the building we don’t know.”
Far from suicidal, those who knew Willis described him as a survivor. He was born two months early, weighing just two pounds, yet he grew into a thriving, artistic teenager. Willis, who played flute and clarinet, was about to graduate from the Celia Cruz High School of Music. Family members said he had no enemies at school. Indeed, many of his classmates joined a Facebook memorial page in his honor.
As of Tuesday, the New York City Medical Examiner was still completing toxicology tests on the teenager’s blood.
Fourty-eight hours after Willis’s frozen body was discovered, family members crowded into the apartment the 17-year-old once shared with his mother. Fogg shook her head in perplexed grief.
“I’m so upset,” she said sobbing. “I’m so upset. You know he was a good kid.”