Kips Bay alleged squatters indicted for heinous murder of Nadia Vitels: DA

Kips Bay murder suspect escorted by detectives during perp walk
Halley Tejada, one of two alleged Kips Bay squatters accused of murdering Nadia Vitels last month, was escorted in handcuffs out of the 17th Precinct stationhouse on April 18, 2024.
Photo by Dean Moses

The two alleged Kips Bay squatters accused of brutally murdering a woman and stuffing her body inside a duffel bag left in her apartment last month have been indicted on second-degree murder charges, prosecutors announced Thursday.

Kensly Alston, 18, and Halley Tejada, 19, are accused of killing Nadia Vitels, who apparently walked in on them squatting inside the residence on East 31st Street on March 12. The pair had fled following the homicide to Pennsylvania, where they were eventually picked up earlier this month.

Alston and Tejada were since indicted by a grand jury on charges of second-degree murder, first-degree burglary and robbery, and multiple counts of criminal possession of stolen property, grand larceny and concealment of a human corpse, according to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

On April 18, detectives escorted Tejada in handcuffs from the 17th Precinct stationhouse for transport to Manhattan Criminal Court; he professed his innocence to reporters while being led out.

“Kensly Alston and Halley Tejada allegedly murdered Nadia Vitels in her own apartment while she was moving in to start a new chapter of her life. I send my deepest condolences to her friends and family as they continue to mourn her loss,” said District Attorney Bragg. “My Office will secure justice for Nadia Vitels.”

According to prosecutors, Vitels first arrived at the East 31st Street apartment on the morning of March 10, dropping off items at the location and leaving a few minutes later. Later that day, at about 1 p.m., Alston and Tejada arrived and allegedly broke into Vitels’ apartment, using a pink suitcase to break the location. 

Police at scene where Kips Bay woman was murdered
Police are investigating after a woman was found dead packed in a bag inside a Kips Bay apartment building on March 14.Photo by Dean Moses

The two were seen coming and going from the apartment over the next 48 hours before, at about 11:30 a.m. on March 12, Vitels arrived at the location with her dog and went up to the apartment.

Police believe that Vitels walked in to find Alston and Tejada, who then allegedly went on the deadly attack. An autopsy found that Vitels was killed with blunt force trauma to the head. She had suffered multiple facial fractures, a brain bleed, and broken ribs.

Later that afternoon, prosecutors said, Alston and Tejada were seen leaving the apartment at about 2:24 p.m.; they allegedly used Vitels’ credit card to buy a vape at a local smoke shop and a suitcase from a nearby Target, then returned to the location at about 3:03 p.m.

Roughly two hours later, according to the charges, the pair fled the building wearing blue gloves and carrying both the pink suitcase they arrived with and the new bag which they purchased from the Target. They then got into Vitels’ car and fled out of the city into New Jersey.

Meanwhile, Vitel’s son would ultimately discover his mother inside a closet during a wellness check of the apartment, at around 4:29 p.m. on March 14, police sources said.

“The super makes entry into the apartment, does a quick look around. As they’re getting ready to leave, the son opens up the closet door and discovers the duffel bag with a foot sticking out,” Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said at an April 4 briefing.

Police said Alston and Tejada managed to travel to Pennsylvania, where they allegedly ditched the victim’s car after crashing it. During their nine-day stay in Pennsylvania, they allegedly used Vitels’ credit cards to buy food, clothing, a diamond ring and a PS5 gaming system.

But police, with the assistance of the U.S. Marshals, caught up to the pair and apprehended them on March 22 in York, PA.     

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