NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A suspect has been arrested in connection with the death of a Brooklyn teenager whose body was found earlier this year naked and burned in Gerristen Beach.
Christian Ferdinand, 20, from Limestone, Maine was arrested overnight and charged with second degree murder, police said.
Earlier this month, the medical examiner had determined that 14-year-old Shaniesha Forbes died of “homicidal asphyxiation,” which includes suffocation and smothering.
Forbes’ body was discovered at the southern end of Gerritsen Avenue in Gerritsen Beach on Jan. 6, two days after she disappeared. The medical examiner said partially burned clothes, believed to belong to Forbes, were also found nearby.
Forbes’ family are both grateful and heartbroken over Ferdinand’s arrest.
“It’s a blessing and a curse at the same time,” the victim’s cousin Kerri-Ann Thomas said. “We’re just glad that someone is going to be held responsible for this horrible act.”
“She was just 14 years old,” the victim’s grandmother Daisy Smith said. “She didn’t even start to live her life and he just took her away from us.”
Investigators said Ferdinand and Forbes knew one another, but they are not revealing much about their relationship beyond that, CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reported.
Detectives told family members Ferdinand confessed to killing the teen and told them he believed she was pregnant and panicked, Brown reported. Autopsy results show she was not.
Forbes’ family said they knew nothing about Ferdinand and suspect the two may have met secretly online.
“They [police] even showed me his picture, never seen him before,” mother Sandra Price said.
Family members have been investigating the case on their own for months and say Forbes’ final Facebook post left cryptic clues.
“Her last Facebook said she went to the movies, went with ‘him’ and we don’t know who ‘him’ is,” Thomas said.
Family members say Ferdinand’s arrest is only the first step in getting justice for Forbes.
“We will fight for you Shaniesha; that’s all we can say,” Thomas said. “We’re sorry we weren’t able to when you needed us, but we will.”
Forbes was a freshman at the Academy for Young Writers in Williamsburg. She lived with her mother and three siblings in East Flatbush.
“It is with great gratitude that a partnership between the community and the police is what has made this arrest possible and we
are able to deliver such great news to this family with the hopes that they can now get closure to this horrible fate that has befallen their family and save yet another young person from being the next victim,” community advocate Tony Herbert said in a statement.
Police said it is unclear whether there were any accomplices, but they have not ruled out more arrests.
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