NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A Queens man is in custody Saturday after police say he killed a defenseless 92-year-old woman earlier this week.
Reeaz Khan, 21, appeared in Queens Criminal Court late Friday night. He faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison.
Khan appeared before a judge for arraignment on charges of murder and sex abuse.
A few hours earlier, Khan appeared to deny the accusations as he was walked out of the 106th Precinct in handcuffs.
Police say he attacked and killed 92-year-old Maria Fuertes as she walked near her home in the early morning hours of Monday, Jan. 9th.
“Ms. Fuertes was a 92-year-old defenseless woman minding her own business, walking down the street when she was brutally attacked,” said NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison.
Investigators say surveillance video shows Khan approaching the woman from behind and knocking her to the ground behind a parked car. The suspect is later seen on video running away.
Fuertes was found after 2 a.m., two hours later, by a passer-by. She was taken to the hospital where was pronounced dead.
The autopsy, police say, showed injuries demonstrating intentional harm.
“We do have some contusions around her neck, as well as we do see some around her private area,” Harrison said.
A memorial is growing on the sidewalk at 127th Street near Liberty Avenue where Fuertes was attacked. She lived just around the corner, and was out collecting cans that night.
Neighbors, who all call her “mom,” say she did that for money to buy cat food for the many cats she took care of.
On Thursday, police released very clear surveillance video of the suspect they were looking for.
Police sources say it was Khan’s family who tipped off police, and he was arrested Friday.
Friends in the neighborhood and at local businesses she frequented who were enraged at the crime now feel a small bit of peace after the arrest.
“How can he do that to an old lady like that? Nice lady, she never bothered nobody,” said deli worker Abdul Alamari.
“We light candles last night. We went over there and light candles. I’m so happy this morning, I go and say ‘Oh thank you guys. You answered my prayer.’ Now I feel relief,” said neighbor Anita Sewlall.
Khan is being held without bail. He is due back in court on Wednesday.