NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A 13-year-old boy charged in the murder of Barnard College faced a judge Friday.

Tessa Majors, 18, was stabbed to death in Morningside Park.

A second juvenile is being questioned by police while authorities search for a third.

The 13-year-old suspect appeared in Manhattan family court Friday afternoon, his aunt and uncle by his side. He sat quietly biting his lip while lawyers argued his case.

Tessa Majors (credit: Instagram/TessMajors)

The brutal attack took place Wednesday evening in Morningside Park. Majors was stabbed multiple times during an attempted robbery. She made her way up the steps of the park to a nearby Columbia University security guard, but it was too late.

Police found the 13-year-old while canvassing the area near Morningside Park. The boy was caught in the lobby of a building at Manhattan Avenue and 119th Street at around 4:20 p.m. Thursday. He was wearing clothes that matched the description of the suspect, sources said. Police arrested him for criminal trespass and during a search found he was carrying a knife.

He was brought to the precinct on trespassing and weapons charges and then confessed to the murder, sources told CBS2. He told investigators he and two friends tried to rob Majors and they stabbed her, sources said.

The arresting detective said in court, who said the trio followed a man into the park but then decided not to rob him. Then the 13-year-old said he watched his two friends choke and stab Tessa, take items from her pockets, and then all three ran off. The 13-year-old said one of his friends told him Tessa bit his finger, fighting back.

The suspect spoke in the presence of his uncle, as is required when interviewing a juvenile, and the suspect waived his right to remain silent, sources said.

The 13-year-old faces second degree murder, robbery and weapons charges.

The suspect left the 26th precinct covered in a jacket, his identity protected because of his age.

Majors, originally from Virginia, moved to New York in the fall to attend Barnard College, a part of Columbia University. She was in a band and had an interest in journalism.

“We are devastated by the senseless loss of our beautiful and talented Tess. We are thankful for the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from across the country. We would also like to express our appreciation for the efforts of the men and women of the NYPD, who continue to work diligently on this case,” the Majors family said in a statement.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said on Twitter detectives were “making significant progress, and we will have major updates to announce very soon.”

The campus, located just blocks from where the 18-year-old freshman was killed, remains in shock.

“We’ve lost somebody who is really special to us, and no arrest of one person or multiple people is going to do that, but it might help us sleep better at night,” said Eric, a Columbia student.

“I think it’s really sad that it’s such a young man because I think you can see that,” Caitlin Walsh said. “I was really, really scared on Wednesday night, Thursday and even today just walking alone and being outside alone. So it’s better to know they have something.”

“That’s just tragic. I mean there’s no justice here,” Eric said.

“I know I will definitely think twice about walking through this park, definitely not at night,” said Columbia student Brian Zaros.

This isn’t the first time the area has seen violent attacks. There have been nearly two dozen incidents in the park since October 2018, including many robberies and one felony assault.

Back in April, police said a group of teens between the ages of 12-15 attacked three women on three separate occasions near the park.

Many Harlem residents had voiced complaints in the past about the safety of the park. On Friday, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer addressed those concerns.

“The police department is going to have a lot more coverage and the Parks Department is putting in their PEP officers. But it’s always, what the challenging part is, you always wanted to unite Columbia and Harlem. That’s what we wanted Morningside Park to be, and we’ll just have to work to make sure that continues to be a fact,” Brewer said.

She toured the park and said lighting and camera experts will also map the area in the near future to decide what added security features will be made.

The school said counseling services will be available.

  • Furman Counseling Center: 100 Hewitt Hall, (212) 854-2092
  • Dean of Studies Office: 105 Milbank Hall, (212) 854-2024
  • After-hours psychological emergency line: (855) 622-1903
  • International SOS for students who are abroad: +1-215-942-8478

NYPD Crime Stoppers is offering a $2,500 reward for information that leads to an arrest in the investigation. Anyone with information about the deadly stabbing is asked to call its hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or 1-888-57-PISTA (74782) for Spanish. You can also submit a tip via the Crime Stoppers website, by tweeting @NYPDTips or by texting 274637.

Comments (23)
  1. Allen Kelley says:

    Probably not good now that you’ve realized what you’ve done and have to sit in jail

  2. Mara Rasserty says:

    I was born and raised in the neighborhood, my two brothers went to Columbia and to this day, I’ve never stepped foot in that park. It was really dangerous back in the 70s, 80s, 90s and though it’s gotten better, they say the last year has seen 2 dozen robberies since Oct 2018. 2 DOZEN in the last 14 months. It always seems that someone has to die before they beef up security. Sure they’ll put more cops in the area. For a time. And then it’ll go right back to being what it is: a park in a large city which attracts crime after dark.

  3. Edward Branca says:

    Juvenile delinquent. Child hood.

  4. vincent barragan says:

    So they attack a girl like rabid dogs, admit to the attack and the kid goes home with a jacket over his face? Sounds about right for NYC and L.A.

  5. SW H says:

    Oddly, the first ad beneath this article is for a pocket knife. How fitting.

  6. Sir Bantz Alot says:

    usual suspects, i see them everynite on the news, robbery, murder,shootings, beatings, whereever they are thats their M.O. .12 % of the US population commit 85 % of the crime, i would call that absolute terrorism and no healthy sensible society would tolerate it.

    1. Tricia says:

      How about when the 61% of the population commit mass murder. No reasonable society should tolerate that either

      1. Do a Google search for “mass shooters 2019.”

        Most of them aren’t white.

    2. Robocop says:

      It is true and it is terrorism. Every fu*king ‘loser’ that kills someone should get a death sentence and be deported by being torn apart by lions and have their pieces thrown over Nigeria. That’s a good deportation right there for terrorists like that.

  7. Al Bee says:

    It should be discerned what incites murder and violence in these teens. It should be easy enough to ask them why they commit these crimes after they are being locked away and it will likely prove to be quite evident that the media they and their peers absorb plays the largest role in driving their mentality. Everything out there tells them violence is the most important thing in life. Video games,TV shows, advertising, films, pop music, and even sporting events nowadays are all full of glorification of murder and violence. To disregard this causation is the most thoughtless, current trend in logical investigation. It is hugely ignorant of the psychological influences on these teens.

    1. Sir Bantz Alot says:

      the usual suspects.. probably needed money to get the new jordans

  8. Greenwich Slumlord says:

    Poor kid. Must have come from a broken home…mom’s a drug addict and dad’s in jail…need to show him some compassion…jk, string the little MoFo up by his balls!!

  9. πŸ…ΆπŸ…»πŸ…ΈπŸ†ƒπŸ…²πŸ…· says:

    Womp womp, libtard state.

  10. dvelius8 says:

    From the reporting, I must assume it wasn’t a gang of white boys. No?

    1. Thayer David says:

      Our cities are falling apart due to entitlement abuse and their lack of desire to prosecute ethnicities for fear of appearing “biased”…PC is tearing our country apart.

  11. cfodude says:

    Ehhhhhhhhh, I’m gonna want to see and hear more before I just believe a 13 yo stabbed someone randomly. Im sure he did confess, not that hard to get anyone to confess if alone in a room with detectives as a kid. Were parents around? Lawyer? Not saying this is not the real truth, but let’s remind ourselves of Central Park 5 and go slow after reading 1st reports. And he was just hanging across the street with knife after stabbing someone? Smells iffy but willing to let facts come out.

    Went to Columbia during 90’s when you knew not to be in that park after dark. I figured by now it was safe with all the gentrification in Harlem and around Columbia. Kinda surprised to read about this RIP to the young lady.

    1. Mary Davis says:

      Ehhhh…. Idiot. Where is the race of the attacker? Too politically correct to mention? Race of the young lady is well known.

      1. DubC says:

        You’re an idiot. The Police haven’t released the identity (or race) of the young man. They can’t report what they don’t know. I really hope the boys are White so I don’t have to hear from ignorant racists spouting off ‘usual suspects” BS.

    2. I graduated from Barnard in 2002, and it was clear to us at that time that Morningside Park was not a place to spend time (day or night) – I too hoped that had changed.

    3. “Not saying this is not the real truth, but let’s remind ourselves of Central Park 5 and go slow after reading 1st reports.”

      What’s your point? The Central Park Five were all guilty as hell, and bragged about their crimes. We should definitely remind ourselves of the so-called Central Park Five.

      BTW, the actual crime was known as “the Central Park Jogger case.” It wasn’t re-defined into “the Central Park Five” until after the confessed perps were convicted, and the MSM switched into hoax mode.

  12. adamvant says:

    Don’t tell me, let me guess.

  13. John Mccarthy says:

    The never will happen again is not the 1st time I heard that from Mayor weedhead

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