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Cops: Dix Hills man charged in mother's assault; teen brother found dead in family's home

Charles Okonkwo, 18, of Dix Hills, is led

Charles Okonkwo, 18, of Dix Hills, is led out of Suffolk police headquarters in Yaphank for arraignment in Central Islip on Sunday, July 20, 2014. Photo Credit: James Carbone

A Dix Hills man with a history of psychiatric issues admitted to "hurting" his mother and his teenage brother, who was found dead at his family's home, authorities said Sunday.

Charles Okonkwo Jr., 18, was charged with felony second-degree assault in his mother's beating and could face additional charges in the death of his teenage brother, whose body was found in his bedroom Saturday at the family's home on Norman Court, authorities said.

At his arraignment in First District Court in Central Islip, Okonkwo Jr. was ordered held on $250,000 cash bail or $1 million bond.

Okonkwo's father, Charles Okonkwo, 62, returned home at 6:10 p.m. Saturday from a stay at Huntington Hospital to find his 15-year-old son Bradley Okonkwo dead and the boy's mother, Chinwe Okonkwo, 52, unconscious in the garage in a pool of blood, Suffolk County police said. Police said they are waiting on autopsy results on Bradley Okonkwo to determine the cause of death.

Charles Okonkwo Jr. initially fled in his family's green 2002 BMW X5, but he and the car later were found a short distance away from the home, police said.

Assistant District Attorney Raphael Pearl said at the arraignment that Okonkwo Jr. has a history of psychiatric issues and "made admissions to hurting" his mother and brother during police questioning.

The criminal complaint against Okonkwo Jr. says his mother "sustained serious trauma including facial fractures." She was found "apparently beaten in a puddle of blood near her car," Pearl said.

She remains in critical but stable condition at Stony Brook University Hospital, where she underwent emergency procedures to relieve pressure on her brain, Pearl said.

Okonkwo Jr.'s attorney, Eric Besso of Sayville, called the case "complicated," and noted he hadn't had a chance to speak to the man's family members. "There's a lot to be sorted out, that's all I can say," Besso said.

The judge ordered a psychiatric evaluation of Okonkwo Jr. and granted two orders of protection, permitting him to communicate with his father but not allowing physical contact with his parents. He is due in court Thursday.

Okonkwo Jr., who wore a light blue jumpsuit and kept his head down during the arraignment, did not enter a plea.

Friends flocked to the Okonkwo home Sunday to offer condolences.

Andrew Salama, 15, of Dix Hills, said he had known Bradley Okonkwo since kindergarten. The two played basketball together and were both going into the 10th grade at Half Hollow Hills High School East in the fall. Bradley's death left Salama "absolutely stunned," he said. "He was always happy. He always joked around. Always outgoing. He's one of those friends that you had to be around."

Lawrence Monwe and his wife, Florence, said they knew the Okonkwos from Nigeria and often spent New Year's together. Okonkwo Jr. had just come back for the summer from his first year at college, they said.

"This is very tragic. No one saw it coming," Lawrence Monwe said. "This was the perfect family you wouldn't expect it to happen to."

The two brothers were often seen playing basketball in front of the home and learning how to drive from their father, neighbors said. The Okonkwos moved into their two-story home in August 2002, said Larry Repanes, who lives across the street. Repanes said he's seen police called to the house at least six times.

With Jennifer Barrios

and Nicole Fuller


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