Suffolk police are asking the public for help in what was determined Wednesday to be the murder of a Central Islip woman found on the side of the road near Connetquot Avenue.
The Suffolk County medical examiner ruled the death of Jennifer Perez, 20, a homicide, police said Wednesday. They would not disclose details of how or where Perez was killed, saying they are still investigating.
Perez's body was spotted by a passing motorist 5 feet off Pinewood Avenue about 7:30 a.m. Saturday. Homicide squad investigators said they believe Perez was killed sometime around midnight Friday.
"By all accounts, she was a very nice young lady," said Det. Sgt. Edward Fandrey of the Homicide Squad. "We are going through the process of trying to determine her last movements that evening."
Perez's best friend, Josselyn Suarez, 19, said she last saw her Friday afternoon at the home where both lived with the Perez family
"I left [the house], came back, and she had left already," Suarez said.
Suarez described Perez as "a good person" who "didn't have problems with anybody." She said Perez attended Hicksville High School and was attending Suffolk County Community College to complete her GED. She said Perez loved to paint, enjoyed music and was talking about exploring a career in architecture.
"She had a lot of goals in life," Suarez said. "She was a great friend, a great daughter and a great sister. . . . All we know is that it was murder."
Detectives are asking anyone with information to call the Homicide Squad at 631-852-6392 or anonymously contact Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.
Perez's body was discovered just blocks from where a 19-year-old mother and her 2-year-old son, who were victims of gang violence, were found slain in February 2010. Fandrey said there is no reason to believe Perez's death was gang-related.
With Aisha Al-Muslim and David Uberti
Information on viewing, services
A viewing for family and friends will be held from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Friday at Michael J. Grant Funeral Home, 571 Suffolk Ave. in Brentwood. A service will be held at the same location at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. Perez will be cremated.