NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A 14-year-old boy sought by police for more than a week was questioned Thursday about the death of Barnard College student Tessa Majors, a move the NYPD is calling a significant development in the investigative process.
Police sources say the teen was questioned at the 26th Precinct by detectives but he was not charged with a crime.
Sources say the youth did not make any incriminating statements and was released from custody to his attorneys.
Police had been searching for the 14-year-old for a little more than a week after detectives were given information about him by a 13-year-old who was the first to be arrested in connection with the stabbing death of 18-year-old Majors.
Investigators say DNA evidence could make or break the case. According to police, Majors fought back, reportedly biting her killer. CBS2’s Dave Carlin reports the 14-year-old may have given DNA to attorneys that could be used to try to match what was found at the scene.
“His attorneys were present for the entire process,” Chief Rodney Harrison said Friday.
Without saying so outright, police hinted they obtained what they need from the third and final young man they brought in to question, saying something is now at a lab and is due back in three to seven days.
“It’s still early on. We did it yesterday, so hopefully we get some results by next week,” Harrison said.
Harrison said he can’t talk about any suspect potentially having a bite mark from Majors.
When asked if the 14-year-old who was so difficult to locate initially might be tempted to flee, Harrison responded with confidence the police would bring him back in pending the DNA test results.
The boy’s legal representatives did not return CBS2’s calls.
Meanwhile, the alleged 13-year-old accomplice who is still in custody is said to have implicated two other teens in this case.
Although he has since been released to the custody of his attorneys, the investigation remains very active.
Our detectives are the best at what they do and are committed to finding justice for all parties involved.
— Chief Rodney Harrison (@NYPDDetectives) December 26, 2019
Sources say he told police he was not the one who stabbed the Barnard freshman to death in Morningside Park just over two weeks ago.
Investigators are calling this a very active investigation, stepping up police patrols in the park where this killing happened to put concerned residents at ease.
“I do think that the park is well-patrolled. I think that we’ve had new lights installed in the park. I think that we have to be vigilant as a community,” Morningside Heights resident Rob Copeland said.
With suspects so young, every step of this investigative process will be scrutinized.
“I think things need to be handled appropriately and police need to do what they’re supposed to do the right way, but I also think I want these people who did this caught,” Morningside Heights resident Elena Rohner said.
“We also don’t want that to prevent them collecting the evidence to begin with. There is a fine line of respecting the rights of a minor and making sure they’re able to collect everything they need to,” Long Island City resident Kelsey Burke said.
“It’s concerning but … I’d rather get it right than rush to judgement,” Copeland said.
But the DNA results are likely a rush order with seemingly so much riding on them.
There is surveillance video in this case, but police sources say it’s not clear enough to make an arrest and it does not show the moment Majors was fatally stabbed.
Sources say investigators are also using cell tower technology to triangulate the teens’ phones to see if the three suspects were at the scene of the crime at the time of the attack.