A second teenager has been arrested in connection with the December murder of 18-year-old Barnard student Tessa Majors. The Virginia native was fatally stabbed during an armed robbery in Morningside Park on December 11. She climbed the stairs out of the park before dying at St. Luke’s Hospital later that night.
A 13-year-old boy was arrested the day after the attack and charged with second degree murder, first-degree robbery, and criminal possession of a weapon. Another suspect was questioned by police before ultimately being released.
New York Police Department Commissioner Dermot Shea said on Saturday that a 14-year-old boy had been taken into custody late Friday night and later arrested. The boy is facing two counts of second-degree murder along with four counts of robbery. He will be charged as an adult.
Shea and District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said they were able to arrest the 14-year-old based on video evidence, witness identification, and statements he made to law enforcement. Authorities said that DNA evidence from under Majors’ fingernails matched DNA collected from the defendant.
“We are confident that we have the person in custody who stabbed her, and that person will face justice in a court of law,” Shea said. “For that I am grateful, the city is grateful, and the community around Morningside Park can take some comfort.”
Vance told reporters that the investigation “paints a gruesome picture” of what happened to Majors in the park the night of December 11. “As alleged, some of the last words she was known to have said were, ‘Help me! I’m being robbed.” Vance said.
In December, the 13-year-old boy told New York Detective Wilfredo Acevedo that he and two other people had been at the park planning to rob someone. Detectives testified that the 13-year-old said one of his friends grabbed Majors from behind and the other one stabbed her. Police also said that Majors bit one of the suspects during the attack and they believed his family had been hiding him until the mark healed.
The 14-year-old was arraigned on Saturday and is scheduled to return to court on February 19, according to the New York Post. Shea said that law enforcement had been in touch with the Majors family throughout the investigation.
“This arrest was a major milestone on the path to justice,” Vance said.