Suffolk County police said early Thursday that they have charged a Brooklyn woman with murder and identified the victim as a missing mother of four whose dismembered body parts were found in Bay Shore and Hempstead over the past several weeks.
Leah Cuevas, 42, who lives in the same Brooklyn apartment building as the woman police said she killed, Chinelle Latoya Thompson Browne, was arrested Wednesday morning by Suffolk police with the help of the U.S. Marshals NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force, authorities said.
Cuevas was charged with second-degree murder and was being held overnight at Suffolk's Fourth Precinct, police said. She was scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip Thursday.
The Nassau County and Hempstead Village police departments and the NYPD, as well as the Nassau and Suffolk County medical examiner's offices, all assisted in the investigation, which is still active, police said.
Browne, an immigrant from Guyana with four children and a husband still residing there, disappeared from her apartment at 346 Sumpter St. in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn.
Police had been investigating whether the body parts found in Bay Shore and Hempstead belonged to Browne, who was last seen July 5.
The grisly discoveries began July 8, when the remains were found in a vacant Bay Shore lot used as a shortcut between a municipal parking lot and the Fire Island Ferry terminal. The body was missing both arms and its head, police sources said at the time.
The next day, a severed arm was found on the lawn of a home on Webb Avenue in Hempstead.
Another arm was found July 10 in a yard on Cornell Street, about half a mile from the first arm. On July 17, a human head was found in the yard of a home Boylston Street in Hempstead.
Police would not elaborate early Thursday about the relationship between the two women.
Last week, a source said investigators were exploring several theories about the case including that the victim may have been killed in New York City, dismembered and then the body parts dumped on Long Island.
Another source said last week that investigators were focusing on at least one person of interest in the case who has had residences in Brooklyn and Long Island. That source also said that during the course of the investigation into Browne's disappearance, police have uncovered a questionable transaction involving the building where she lived.
An apparently fraudulent deed was filed that bore the signature of the original owner, who had been dead for about four months at the time of the filing, according to New York City records.