A 14-year-old boy suspected of fatally stabbing a Barnard College freshman to death in a Morningside Park robbery last December has been indicted on murder charges.
Police took Rashaun Weaver, 14, into custody on Friday night at the Taft Houses located at 1345 Fifth Ave. in Harlem, shortly after a grand jury indicted him on two counts of first- and second-degree murder, and three counts of robbery.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said at a Saturday press conference that detectives are confident that Weaver was the one who stabbed Tessa Majors, 18, to death during a robbery at Morningside Park on the afternoon of Dec. 11, 2019. Weaver is the second teenager charged with the murder; a 13-year-old boy was arrested for his role days after it happened.
“It has been a long deliberate process from Dec. 11, when Tessa Majors was murdered, until today, when we are confident that we are delivering a measure of justice in announcing the grand jury indictment and subsequent arrest of one of those involved in the killing,” Shea said.
Members of the NYPD Manhattan North Homicide Squad and the 26th Precinct Detective Squad worked with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office to build the case against Weaver and present it to the grand jury.
“The allegations are laid out in heartbreaking detail,” Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. said. “It paints a picture of the video evidence, blood, smartphone, iCloud, witness id and the defendant’s own statements that were throughly examined” by the grand jury, resulting in the indictment.
The criminal complaint, Vance said, noted in gruesome detail Majors’ final moments, including a desperate cry for help that served as her last words: “Help me, I’m being robbed.”
“This arrest is a major milestone on the path to justice for Tessa Majors,” Vance added. “Our journey was not a sprint, but rather it was a painstaking, meticulous search for the truth.”
Shea noted that Majors’ family was apprised of the indictment, but conceded that the arrest could never restore to them who they lost.
“Sadly, this cannot bring back this young woman, this student, this victim. That is something even the best, most impartial investigation simply cannot do,” Shea added. “What we can do is say that we are confident that we have in custody the person who stabbed her, and that person will face justice in the court of law.”
Majors, 18, was stabbed in the torso during an apparent robbery attempt in Morningside Park on the afternoon of Dec. 11, 2019. A security guard from Columbia University found her gravely wounded on the edge of the park. She later died at Mount Sinai/St. Lukes Hospital.
The murder stunned the Barnard College campus as well as the surrounding community. Hundreds gathered in Morningside Park days later for a vigil to remember Majors and call for justice. Some residents had complained of robberies and other crimes in the area in the weeks leading up to the homicide.
Within days, police sought and questioned several teenage boys connected to the homicide. One 13-year-old was taken into custody on murder and robbery charges, while another 14-year-old boy was questioned and released. A third suspect was located and also questioned.
Upon arriving at the Taft Houses on Feb. 14, police picked up Weaver without further incident, according to NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison. He was brought to the Fifth Precinct, where he was held overnight in a juvenile room prior to his arraignment this morning.
At his arraignment, Weaver was ordered held without bail and to return to court on Feb. 17. Vance said he would be brought to “an age-appropriate facility.”
The 13-year-old suspect in the Majors murder is being tried in family court, but under state law, Weaver — who turns 15 in two months — will be prosecuted in criminal court. Vance said that his office “will be very careful to safeguard all the rights that he has as we go forward with this case.”
Shea said that Weaver has no prior criminal record. Detectives are continuing to seek others who may have been involved in the deadly robbery.