Police on Thursday announced an arrest in the death of a 14-year-old girl whose body was found on a Brooklyn beach earlier this year. NY1's Vivian Lee filed the following report.
Shaneisha Forbes of Flatlands was a 14-year-old high school freshman who would never explore her dream of becoming a writer. In January, police found her charred body in the waters off Gerritsen Beach. Her murder remained a mystery, until now.
Police say Christian Ferdinand, a 20-year-old man from Maine whom she had met on Facebook was arrested earlier this week and charged with smothering her and burning her body to try to hide the crime.
"He took my granddaughter's life twice. He suffocated her then he had the nerve to burn her body. So that more than enough - he have to really, really pay for that," said Forbes' grandmother, Carmela Gibson. "She don't even start to live her life and they took her away from us."
Police say Ferdinand made a statement since his arrest that he had met Forbes online in December and they had begun a sexual relationship.
In his statement, police say he told investigators Forbes informed him she was pregnant. Police say after an argument broke out, Ferdinand suffocated her with a pillow.
Investigators say Ferdinand stored the body on a roof, then set her body on fire. Police say Ferdinand then decided to discard the body in a suitcase at Gerritsen Beach before fleeing to Maine.
The victim's mother, Sandra Price, was too emotional to talk Thursday morning outside the home where she raised her four girls, but thanked police for a measure of closure.
"They did a wonderful job by catching a killer," Price said.
Relatives, neighbors and friends are now sounding an alarm about online relationships.
"This is a lesson to children as a whole, not to encounter anyone on Facebook," said one neighbor.
"Everybody out here is not trustworthy. You can't believe they're gonna have your best interests at heart," said Tony Herbert, a community activist.
"He was a 20-year-old man. She was a 14-year-old child," said Kerri-Ann Thomas, the victim's cousin. "He should have known that it was inappropriate to have any type of relationship with a 14-year-old."
Forbes' family says as far as they know Shaneisha was not pregnant before she died.
Meanwhile, Ferdinand has been charged with second-degree murder and, if convicted, faces 25 years to life.