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14-year-old sought in Majors' killing found, questioned and released

A boy wanted for questioning in the killing of St. Anne’s-Belfield graduate Tessa Majors was found by New York City police, questioned and released, according to detectives.

In a series of tweets Thursday, NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said officers had found the 14-year-old boy after nine days of searching.

The boy reportedly had jumped out of a car and ran off while being driven to a police station to talk with investigators on Dec. 17. He is one of three juveniles sought by police in the Dec. 11 stabbing death of Majors, an 18-year-old freshman at Barnard College, an all-women’s school in New York City.

“Earlier today, we announced that we located the [third] subject in the Tessa Majors investigation. This was a significant development in the investigative process. After being taken into custody, his attorneys were present at the 26th precinct for the entire investigative process,” Harrison tweeted four hours after announcing the boy was in custody.

“Although he has since been released to the custody of his attorneys, the investigation remains very active,” Harrison tweeted.

Police tracked him down after taking the unusual step Dec. 20 of releasing photographs of him but not his name or any other identifying information.

Majors was fatally stabbed near Barnard’s campus, which the college shares with Columbia University. She died from wounds to the upper body, the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed.

Majors entered Morningside Park near campus around 7:30 p.m., at which time police say she was confronted by a group of teenage boys who attempted to rob her and then stabbed her. She made her way out of the park and back to a Columbia University security guard station, and the guard contacted 911, according to police.

A 13-year-old boy was arrested Dec. 12 and charged with second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and criminal possession of a weapon. He is not believed to be the person who stabbed Majors. Another 13-year-old has been questioned in connection with her killing, but also has been released.

Majors’ death has troubled city and college leaders, both for its proximity to campus and its apparent randomness.

The suspects’ youth has led to comparisons to the Central Park Five, who were five black and Hispanic teens wrongfully convicted of a 1989 rape.

Some city leaders have urged police to use caution to avoid repeating mistakes made in that case.

Harrison said the youths previously questioned in the Majors case had guardians present and were told of their right to a lawyer. The Legal Aid Society, which represents the first arrested youth, said detectives should have waited until he had a lawyer before questioning him.

The organization also has raised concerns about the track record of one of the detectives in the case, saying Wilfredo Acevedo had been the subject of disciplinary findings and was accused in lawsuits of planting and falsifying evidence, lying in court papers and using excessive force.

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea defended Acevedo, saying in a written statement that he had never been found to have made a single false statement or falsely arrested anyone by the NYPD, the city’s police watchdog agency, courts or prosecutors.

Shea said the Legal Aid Society was “trying to undermine the case” by singling out Acevedo with “calculated, personal attacks.”

On Dec. 20, a Connecticut man was arrested after police say he posted a Reddit message saying he was going to kill the suspected stabber.

Majors’ slaying has sparked increased security measures at Morningside Park, including continuously staffed guard booths outside the park. The operation hours of the evening safety shuttle bus also have been extended, according to New York City officials and media reports.

Majors was memorialized Saturday at a private service at St. Anne’s-Belfield. Head of School David Lourie told mourners that being around Majors left everyone feeling “more optimistic about the future.”


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