Suffolk police have launched a manhunt for a fugitive they believe killed a 20-year-old Central Islip woman in July and left her body on the side of the road.
An arrest warrant accuses Manuel Moreno, 42, of Central Islip, of murdering Suffolk County Community College student and aspiring architect Jennifer Perez, according to police records obtained by Newsday.
The victim's body was spotted by a passing motorist a few feet off Pinewood Avenue about 7:30 a.m. on July 7. An autopsy revealed that she suffered blunt-force trauma, police said.
"He is the only suspect," said Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick, commander of the Suffolk homicide squad. "We know he's fled the jurisdiction. We're actively seeking him."
Perez's friend, Christina Lopez, 20, said she and the victim's family had suspected that Moreno, an acquaintance of Perez's, had played a role in her death.
"He ran off right after she died, but he needs to pay the price," Lopez said. "We need justice for Jennifer. She was an angel; artistic and musical and beautiful."
"For a girl so sweet to die like that is just . . . the worst thing imaginable," said David Marquez, of Central Islip, a friend and former classmate of Perez.
Marquez said friends and family of the victim "won't be satisfied" until the suspect is captured and charged with the slaying.