What to Know
- Rashawn Brazell, 19, left his mother's Bushwick apartment in February 2005 and was never seen again
- His dismembered body was found in a bloody plastic bag in a subway tunnel in Brooklyn
- Kwauhuru Govan now faces charges in his death; he is also charged with murder in the 2004 slaying of a 17-year-old Brooklyn girl
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.