Police say two teenagers who were being questioned over the stabbing murder of an 18-year-old college freshman in New York have been cleared as suspects in the brutal crime.
Tessa Majors, from Charlottesville, Virginia, was stabbed to death in Morningside Park near the Barnard College’s Manhattan campus on Wednesday evening.
Detectives said Majors had been walking in the park at about 5.30pm when at least two men allegedly demanded money from her before stabbing her multiple times.
Two teenage boys were being questioned by detectives with their parents present on Thursday. They have since been released and police say they were not involved in the fatal stabbing.
Tessa Majors, 18, was stabbed to death in a Manhattan park on Wednesday night at 5.30pm
NYPD Chief of Detective Rodney Harrison said during a press conference on Thursday afternoon that police wanted to speak to a third young suspect.
A 16-year-old boy, who police sources described as a known robbery suspect, was initially taken into custody from a nearby housing project not long after the attack but he was released without charge on Thursday.
He was reportedly wearing a green jacket that was similar to one that a witness claimed one of Tessa’s attackers was wearing. There was also a trail of blood leading into his apartment, which police sources described as a ‘hub of criminal activity’.
Police have since increased patrols around the college campus and park as investigators vowed to take an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to solving the crime.
Majors, who had only been in the city since August when her mother dropped her off for her freshman year of college, has been described by her grieving family as a talented and well-loved young woman.
These are the steps leading into the park where Majors was attacked on Thursday. She was attacked at the base of them and crawled back up to get help from the book
Majors collapsed after seeking help at a Columbia University guard booth. The steps are shown on Wednesday
The campus security booth at the top of the steps where she went looking for help
‘We lost a very special, very talented, and very well-loved young woman,’ a statement from her family said.
‘Tess shone bright in this world and our hearts will never be the same.’
Police say Majors had been walking down a flight of stairs into the park on West 116th Street when she was attacked.
The attackers allegedly demanded money from Majors and stabbed her multiple times in the stomach, face, neck and under her arm, before fleeing.
Police say Majors appeared to have put up a fight.
She crawled back up the steps to a Columbia University security guard booth. He called 911 and she was rushed to the hospital but was later pronounced dead.
It was earlier reported that the guard had been doing his rounds when she came looking for help but NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said on Thursday that that was inaccurate.
She crawled for help to the booth of a Columbia University security guard but he was away doing his rounds.
Flowers are laid near the entrance of Barnard College on Thursday in honor of the slain freshman
A person stands next to flowers laid near the entrance of Barnard College after Majors was stabbed to death on Wednesday evening
The teenager was walking into the park when she was attacked at 5.30pm on Wednesday
When he returned, he found her unconscious and called 911.
A second, unidentified 911 caller reported seeing someone wearing a green jacket at the scene who they thought could be a suspect. It is unclear what time they phoned the police.
An NYPD spokesman refused to give specific details when contacted by DailyMail.com.
Emergency services responded and found Majors’ uncharged cell phone lying next to her, along with a butterfly knife.
It is not yet clear if that was the weapon used or if it belonged to her.
Police are still trying to piece together what happened in the lead up to Majors being attacked.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed to find those responsible.
‘We will find the perpetrators of this crime and bring them to justice,’ he tweeted. ‘We’ve lost a young woman full of potential in a senseless act of violence. I want every student and every member of faculty to know your city will be with you in the days ahead.’
The victim’s parents are now on their way from Virginia to New York.
‘I guess being from a smaller town she was too naive to think about walking alone in New York City. She just shouldn’t have been there,’ her grandmother, Martha Burton, told The New York Daily News.
Her father, author Inman Majors, regularly gushed over her on social media.
Majors, who had only been in the city since August when her mother dropped her off for her freshman year of college, has been described by her grieving family as a talented and well-loved young woman
After the stabbing, Majors (pictured) staggered to a nearby security guard booth for help but found it vacant
A 16-year-old boy, who police sources described as a known robbery suspect, was initially taken into custody from a nearby housing project not long after the attack but he was released without charge on Thursday
Tessa’s proud father regularly shared tributes to her on social media. He posted his on her 18th birthday earlier this year
Barnard College, where the teenager was a student, is gripped with panic and grief
In May, in a Facebook post to celebrate her 18th birthday, he wrote: ’18 years ago today my life got redefined in all the right ways when this little bundle of fun came into the world.
‘I can’t wait to see what the next 18 years have in store.’
In a statement to students issued last night, Barnard College president Sian Leah Beilock said: ‘Tessa was just beginning her journey at Barnard and in life.
‘We mourn this devastating murder of an extraordinary young woman and member of our community.
‘This is an unthinkable tragedy that has shaken us to our core.’
Students at the all-female college are now terrified and are preparing to honor Majors at a vigil.
‘My friend is throwing up in the bathroom. She’s so scared,’ Isabel Jauregui, a 20-year-old student, told The New York Times on Wednesday night.
They all learned about the deadly attack via campus news alerts.
MAYOR BLAMED FOR RISE IN CRIME
Mayor Bill de Blasio came under fire on Thursday for his position on crime after tweeting about Tessa’s death.
He tweeted: ‘The close-knit community at Barnard College is in shock right now.
‘We’ve lost a young woman full of potential in a senseless act of violence.
‘I want every student and every member of faculty to know your city will be with you in the days ahead.’
But Twitter users were quick to blame him for the event and said it was indicative of how the city was reverting to its history of violent crime because of his rules.
‘This is on you Mr ‘Safest Big City” one person quipped.
Another said: ‘Mayor: This is late1970’s/1980’s type of NYC violent crime. Multiple predators prey on lone victim w/o fear of being caught. You’re going backwards. Fast.’
Others accused him of letting too many prisoners out of Rikers Island.
‘You caused this by letting criminals roam free and rewarding them for committing crimes and not letting the NYPD do its job,’ another said.
Some begged him to let the police force do its job.
He has previously come under fire for his plans to release prisoners before bail reform comes into effect next year.
Critics blamed De Blasio’s soft line on crime for the teenager’s brutal death