At around 7 p.m. on December 11, 2019, Barnard College student Tessa Majors, 18, was walking through Morningside Park in Manhattan when she was accosted and then repeatedly stabbed.
Majors was reportedly able to make her way to street level, where a security officer then called 911. She was taken to a local hospital, where she later passed away.
NBC News reports that according to a criminal complaint, security footage from the evening of the murder shows Majors entering the park from one entrance and three suspects entering from another. The suspects were initially following a male before he apparently exited the vicinity. The suspects then came upon Majors, and stood around her. Following a brief interlude where the presence of a nearby male reportedly led to them “walk[ing] away,” the suspects engaged with Majors.
“Video shows Majors struggling with the teens before breaking free and stumbling up the stairs,” reports NBC News.
The following day, a 13-year-old male was arrested in connection with the incident. He was reportedly charged with counts of second degree murder and robbery.
On Friday, a 14-year-old male was arrested in connection with the crime.
During a press conference on Saturday, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said that the suspect has been “charged with two counts of murder in the second degree, with one count representing intentional murder and the other a felony murder, a murder caused in the course of a robbery, one count of robbery in the first degree, and three counts of robbery in the second degree.”
“The complaint paints … a gruesome picture of what this young woman endured in her final moments,” Vance added. “As alleged, some of the last words she was known to have said was, ‘Help me! I’m being robbed!'”
Vance stated that because the suspect is not an adult, the District Attorney’s office will be “very careful to safeguard all the rights that [the suspect] has as we go forward with this case,” and that “only a fair process will result in true justice for Tessa Majors.”
When asked about the evidence against the suspect, Vance said that it is a “combination of many types of evidence, ranging from scientific to digital to video to [the suspect’s] own statements, and a substantial amount of work was done, and the evidence was presented to the grand jury over the course of many weeks with many witnesses and many exhibits.”
When asked if there are “any other suspects” being pursued in the case, Vance replied that the District Attorney’s “office and the NYPD are in active investigation in terms of other suspects, and that will continue.”
A reporter asked about why the 13-year-old suspect from December is “being charged as a juvenile,” and the latest suspect isn’t.
The law requires that a 13-year-old who is charged with felony murder be prosecuted in Family Court. The law gives jurisdiction to our office where a 14-year-old is charged with intentional murder and felony murder, which is why the case is in Criminal Court.
Another reporter asked if anyone is being “looked at” for aiding the 14-year-old suspect in his alleged hiding from authorities, to which NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison replied that it’s still an “active investigation.”
According to DA Vance, the “arraignment on the indictment” for the suspect is set to take place on February 19.