NEW YORK (AP) — A 14-year-old boy suspected of fatally stabbing a Barnard College freshman was released from police custody on Thursday, mere hours after New York City police said he had been located following a two-week manhunt.
Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison tweeted that finding the suspect “was a significant development in the investigative process,” but that the youth had since been released to the custody of his lawyers. Harrison didn’t say why the boy was released.
A police spokesman declined to provide details, saying “the investigation remains active and ongoing.”
A spokesman for Neighborhood Defender Service confirmed that the organization is providing the boy with legal representation but declined to comment further.
The 14-year-old is one of three youths police believe were involved in the stabbing of 18-year-old Tessa Majors as she walked through Manhattan’s Morningside Park on Dec. 11.
Police tracked him down after taking the unusual step last Friday of releasing photographs of him but not his name or any other identifying information.
Harrison announced in a tweet Thursday morning that the boy had been found, but a police spokeswoman declined to answer questions about where and how he was located.
Of the two other suspects, only one has been charged.
A 13-year-old boy arrested Dec. 13 and charged as a juvenile with felony murder told detectives he was at the park with the other youths but wasn’t the one who stabbed Majors, police said.
Another juvenile suspect was questioned for several hours, also on Dec. 13, but police let him go, Harrison said. He has declined to say why that boy wasn’t charged.
Majors was stabbed while walking in the park just before 7 p.m., two days before the start of final exams at Barnard, an all-women’s school that is part of the Ivy League’s Columbia University.
She staggered up a flight of stairs to street level and collapsed in a crosswalk.
Her death has troubled city and college leaders, both for its proximity to campus and its apparent randomness.
Some city leaders have urged police to use caution in investigating Majors’ death to avoid repeating mistakes made with the Central Park Five — a group of five black and Hispanic teens wrongfully convicted of a 1989 rape.
Harrison said in a tweet that the youth taken into custody Thursday had lawyers present “for the entire investigative process.”