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NYPD: Teen questioned, released in Tessa Majors stabbing death

People pause and place a candle at a

People pause and place a candle at a makeshift memorial for Tessa Majors inside the Barnard College campus in New York on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. Credit: AP/Mary Altaffer

The NYPD has questioned and released a 14-year-old boy suspected in the stabbing death of a Barnard College freshman during a robbery in Morningside Park, according to tweets Thursday from the NYPD's chief of detectives.

The teenager had previously been picked up at a Bronx location after cops received information he would be there, according to Assistant Chief Thomas Conforti, an NYPD spokesman.  Police had taken the boy to the 26th Precinct, Conforti said.

A law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity said Thursday afternoon that, before being allowed to go home, the teenager took a DNA test, pursuant to a court order. 

In one of Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison's tweets, he said of the boy: "Although he has since been released to the custody of his attorneys, the investigation remains very active. Our detectives are the best at what they do and are committed to finding justice for all parties involved." 

The NYPD has not released the boy's name but had distributed his photo in the hopes of finding him.

Barnard freshmen Tessa Majors, 18, was repeatedly stabbed on Dec. 11 as she tried to resist her attackers during an apparent robbery near Morningside Park, the NYPD said. The stabbing took place the night before final exams and less than a 10-minute walk from the Barnard campus.

No attorney for the 14-year-old could be identified for comment. He is among three youths suspected of being involved in the killing. 

Several days after the fatal stabbing, a 13-year-old boy was arrested in connection with the crime. He remained in custody Thursday on charges of robbery, weapon possession and felony murder.  An alleged participant in a crime can be charged with murder even if the actual killing was committed by someone else. 

The teenager released Thursday was the second to be questioned and set free in the case. 

A Manhattan Family Court judge said Monday she would rule by Jan. 2 on whether the 13-year-old's statement to the police in the presence of a guardian can be used as evidence. According to testimony from an NYPD detective, the teenager told him he and two others walked to the park with the intention of robbing someone. Majors apparently refused to give up her property, leading to the stabbing, the detective said.

The attack was captured on grainy surveillance video, according to court testimony earlier this month from the detective.
With Anthony M. DeStefano

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