The body of a woman found with her hands and feet bound on Saturday at a Breezy Point beach has been identified as a Queens woman who was close to her Valley Stream family and a student at Long Island University, New York City police and her family said Monday.
Marisha Cheong, 24, was found Saturday about 8:40 a.m., the NYPD said. The cause of death had not been determined Monday.
Cheong, who spent much of her childhood in Valley Stream, where most of her family still lives, was last seen the night of Dec. 19 at the Queens home on 145th Street where she lived with her boyfriend, a law enforcement source said.
On that day, her mother, Bibi Ali, received two phone texts, one from her daughter's cellphone and one from her daughter's boyfriend, Latchman Balkaran, said Aundrey Azeez, a cousin who spoke for Cheong's family.
Ali received a text message from Cheong's cellphone that stated, "Mom, I'm fine. I need time for myself," the cousin recounted.
But Cheong had never texted her mother before. The two were so close that the daughter would call every morning when she got up, never text, Azeez said. Also, the message had a word Cheong never called her mother, he said: "That word, 'Mom' -- her mother knew something was wrong. She knew something was wrong from that. She always calls her 'Mommy.' "
The boyfriend's text was another shock, the cousin said.
"He said she went with some other guy," Azeez said from Ali's Valley Stream home Monday night. "She left him for some guy."
The family did not believe that, he said: "She definitely would not leave him for another guy. She was considering having a family with him. She thought that he was the right person for her."
Cheong had been studying business management at Long Island University and was thinking of starting a career planning parties, which she loved doing, her family said.
In December, the family set up a Facebook page to help find Cheong.
Before her disappearance, she had been planning a Dec. 20 birthday party for her younger half-brother, Azeez said. That day, the boy texted his sister, saying he's "waiting for her," the cousin said. "He still hasn't had a birthday celebration," he said.
Balkaran declined to comment Monday.
"I cried so much," Ali told News 12 Long Island. "I don't have any more tears in my eyes. I really miss her. Really miss her. I don't know how am I going to go on without her. I depend on her so much. She take me shopping. We call each other. She come and spend time with me."
Cheong came from Guyana when she was 10, her family said. She worked part-time at her mother's jewelry store, Guyana Gold, in Jamaica.
"She was nice, she was always smiling, she was good to everybody," Azeez recalled.
"It seems so unreal. It hasn't sunk in. Her mother is taking it very hard."
With Anthony M. DeStefano
and Igor Kossov