NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A suspect was being questioned Tuesday afternoon, after a woman’s body was found burned beyond recognition in an East Harlem stairwell.
Police said the FDNY was called to the DeWitt Clinton Houses public housing development, on 105th Street between Lexington and Park avenues, at 6:30 a.m., for a fire in the stairwell.
When they arrived, firefighters put out the fire and then found the body in the ninth floor stairwell of 107 E. 105th St. The body was in a garbage bag, authorities said.
“Find out there was a female. There was a female that was burned,” a resident named Victor said. “Somebody burned the female.”
“All they told me was to walk up the other stairwell,” said resident Ashley Rome. “There’s blood in the elevator, but that’s about it.”
“We have a blood trail that led us across the street,” NYPD Deputy Chief Christopher McCormick said. “We have blood in the hallway, we have blood in the lobby and the elevator. The body was removed from one building to another building.”
Police believe the woman was killed across the street at 1407 Park Ave. and then dragged in the garbage bag to the other building, where they found it on fire. The victim was identified late Tuesday as Shantee Nakhid, 23.
Investigators said it appeared that the suspect dumped the body and then barricaded himself in an apartment with a woman in her 60s and two children.
“We encountered a male who was attempting suicide,” McCormick said. “Rendered him aid. They saved him. They brought him to Harlem Hospital. He’s still alive now at Harlem Hospital.”
But as CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, Jacqueline Thomas said the man now in custody — her 27-year-old brother Nelson Quinones — had nothing to do with the murder of the woman whose body was discovered across the street from his home.
She said police were indeed led to Quinones’ apartment because he tried to take her own life, but it was after a fight with his girlfriend.
“It was a domestic situation with my brother this morning,” Thomas said. “He slit his wrists. They found a speck of blood in front of my mother’s door from his wrist and his DNA, and he was scared. He seen the police when he opened the door. He was scared. He shut the door.”
Thomas said her brother has had run-ins with police in the past, but she said the father of two young children is not capable of murder.
“I grew up with him. He’s my baby brother. He never, ever would do something like this – ever, ever!” she said. “They’re claiming someone dragged something here for this – please! He can’t even lift his 5-year-old daughter when she sleeping from the bunk upstairs. I have to help him. This is ridiculous.”
That suspect had self-inflicted wounds to the neck and wrist when he was apprehended, according to authorities.
Charges were pending late Tuesday afternoon.