The mother of a New York City college student killed in a hit-and-run crash over the weekend is searching for answers after her daughter was found on the road without her identification or cell phone.
Binghamton University student Stefani Lineva, 20, was last seen around midnight on Friday walking home from her boyfriend's apartment, her mother Daniela Atanassova-Lineva said.
The student, originally from Queens, was found lying on the eastbound lane of Route 434 around 2 a.m. Saturday by a passing motorcyclist.
Lineva was taken to UHS Wilson Medical Center in neighboring Johnson City, where she was pronounced dead. Police say she had suffered severe injuries consistent with being struck by a vehicle.
Her mother said she was found without her identification or cell phone on her, and she now believes her daughter was murdered.
"I think it's a homicide, definitely a homicide, there are a lot of facts missing and we will pursue it," she said.
Lineva had recently transferred to Binghamton University from Adelphi University to play division one tennis.
"Stef was bright, smart, happy, always smiling and singing," her mother said.
When Atanassova-Lineva found out what had happened to her daughter she said she dropped to the floor in shock. "I screamed, I called my mom."
Binghamton University and the city are now offering a $11,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the hit-and-run.
Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger, who earlier praised 20-year-old Stefani Lineva as a spirited, vibrant young woman who touched the lives of everyone she met on campus, announced the reward Tuesday.
Lineva was from Middle Village and graduated from Forest Hills High School, where she was a runner-up in the PSAL singles championship her senior year.
She made local history at age 13, becoming the youngest women's champion at West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills. West Side Tennis director Bob Ingersole said she was not only talented, but also well-loved.
"She was very tough but also had a super sweet streak in her, she was very caring of her family, she looked after her brother," he said.
Lineva's 9-year-old brother had written a number of handwritten tributes to his sister, and played a tennis match in her honor on Sunday, winning a trophy.
"He dedicated it to her," their mother said.