New York Daily News

An unsolved murder, never to be forgotten

- ERROL LOUIS Louis is political anchor at NY1 News and host of “Road to City Hall.”

‘I’m eternally optimistic that we will close this case,” Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes told me Wednesday when I asked about the still-unsolved murder of Chanel Petro-Nixon, a 16-year-old honor student killed in 2006. “I promised her parents I would never close the case until it’s finished.”

Right now, it’s not finished. Which is why this Saturday, as we have done for years, a group of cops, politician­s, neighbors and friends will gather at 11 a.m. at 1605 Fulton St. in BedfordStu­yvesant, Brooklyn, then stage a community rally, march and prayer vigil to push for the case to be solved.

You are invited to join us. For more info, call (347) 210-8954 or email

Chanel vanished on Father’s Day 2006, on the day she was supposed to apply for a job at a nearby Applebee’s restaurant. Several days later, sanitation workers found her strangled body in a trash bag in front of a vacant building at 212 Kingston Ave. in Crown Heights. There was no evidence of sexual abuse.

A small army of people jumped on the case. Several went door-to-door, canvassing neighbors and storeowner­s for tips and plastering the neighborho­od with posters. The Rev. Al Sharpton and I both appeared on “America’s Most Wanted,” asking for anonymous phone tips. The Daily News kicked in $5,000 to a reward fund.

Correction workers and cops in the 77th Precinct held sports tournament­s to raise more for the reward fund, which now stands well above $33,000. For a while, the NYPD had two detectives working the case full time.

And every year, we rally and pray and ask people to rack their brains for any clue or connection that could help detectives solve the mystery. Chanel’s parents, Lucita and Garvin, have led the effort with an inspiring, tenacious dignity.

The closest thing to a break in the case came with last year’s trial of Veron Primus, aka New York State inmate 12A5663, who is serving time at the Adirondack Correction­al Facility upstate. According to law enforcemen­t sources, Primus was known to Chanel, and she may have been going to meet him the day she disappeare­d.

Years after Chanel’s killing, two women accused Primus of rape. He went on trial in 2012 and was acquitted of sexual assault charges but was convicted on several lesser charges of criminal contempt and sentenced to two to four years in prison, after which he may be deported to Trinidad.

“I believe that this individual knows something about what happened to Chanel Petro-Nixon,” says the Rev. Taharka Robinson, an adviser to Chanel’s family who has led the annual prayer vigils and attended part of Primus’ trial. “I’m not a lawyer, but you’ve got a guy arrested for two rapes who was the last person she was supposed to meet with.”

Being accused of rape — and then acquitted — is a far cry from proving any connection to an unrelated murder case, and Primus hasn’t been charged in the case of Chanel. That makes him just one more person who will, hopefully, come forward and give investigat­ors some useful informatio­n.

It’s fitting that the rally comes at the end of a week when the public spat between Mayor Bloomberg, Police Commission­er and Raymond Kelly on one side and members of the City Council on the other have reduced issues of public safety to a set of sound bites and insults.

My neighbors are about to show that fighting crime isn’t only about stop-and-frisk or civil liberties lawsuits. True safety rests with neighbors who work together, watch each other’s kids and go the extra mile to catch a predator. No matter how many years it takes.

See you at the rally.

 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States