Justice may finally be served for the family of a Brooklyn teen murdered a decade ago with the indictment of a man long-considered a suspect in the case.
On Sunday, June 18, 2006, 16-year-old Chanel Petro-Nixon left her parent’s Bedford-Stuyvesant home to apply for a job at a nearby Applebee’s restaurant. It was Father’s Day, and she planned to come home after meeting a boy she knew from church and school.
But the honors student, known for her beautiful smile and devout faith, was never seen alive again.
Her body was found four days later in Crown Heights, stuffed into a trash bag. Sanitation workers had said they couldn’t dispose of the bag because it was too large, investigators said. She was strangled.
"Ten years ago, a promising young woman had her life abruptly taken," Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said. "She came from a beautiful family. She was a daughter of Brooklyn, a member of the Bedford-Stuyvesant community. Chanel had her whole life ahead of her."
The boy she had planned to meet — 19-year-old Veron Primus — allegedly told Chanel’s loved ones that she never showed up to meet him, but investigators never stopped eyeing him in the murder of the Boys and Girls High School student.
Since then, Primus continued to have run-ins with the law and in 2012 was tried in two unrelated rape cases. He was acquitted in both, but he was convicted of lesser charges of third-degree burglary and criminal contempt.
Primus was sentenced to two-to-four years in prison, and in May 2015, he was deported to the Caribbean.
There, he was charged with the murder of 36-year-old real estate agent Sharleen Greaves, who was stabbed to death last November, according to news reports from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a small country located just south of St. Lucia.
Primus was arrested after island police rescued a woman he had once dated and was allegedly holding captive in his home. The ex-girlfriend told police that over the course of four months, Primus beat her, locked her in a room and threatened to kill her if she left, according to reports.
NYPD cold case detectives were able to gather new evidence once Primus was taken into custody in the Caribbean, officials said.
Primus, now 29, was charged with Chanel’s murder, officials announced just three days shy of the 10-year anniversary of Chanel’s disappearance. An extradition request will be submitted to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
“It is important for us that we bring Primus back to Brooklyn to face justice," Thompson said, noting that his prosecutors have traveled to St. Vincent to begin the process.
”In our business, the terrible business of investigating homicides, rarely do we witness true evil in anybody. Here we witnessed it in this case,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said. “We will go to the ends of the earth to find that person to pull them in and to make the case."
The news provided a modicum of solace to Chanel’s parents, who never gave up the fight to bring their daughter’s killer to justice.
“It’s a bittersweet day today for the family. At least we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. It took 10 years," said Petro-Nixon’s mom Lucita Nixon. ““We have hope that justice, that Chanel will get justice hopefully very soon.”
Boyce also noted that investigators are looking at other cold cases from the time period that Chanel was killed to when he was deported to see if there is any connection to Primus.
“We have his DNA,” he said. “We'll go through our files to what other cases other families may have suffered from this male."
But further evidence is needed to truly make the case, authorities said, urging anyone with information about Chanel’s disappearance and murder to come forward.
“While this doesn’t take away the pain of losing Chanel, and we can never bring her back, we know that today her soul rests easier and today we bring her family the closure that they so desperately deserved over the past decade, but it is not over,” Public Advocate Letitia James said.
“In order to wrap up this case, we need witnesses. In order to bring a conviction, not just an indictment, we need witnesses,” she continued. “Please step up. Now is the time to finally bring closure to this case so that Chanel can rest in peace.”
Elected officials, community members and Chanel’s friends and family will gather together at 11 a.m. Saturday at 212 Kingston Avenue—where her body was discovered—to pay their respects and continue to fight for justice for the girl so many loved.
Urging people to come to remember her daughter, Lucita Nixon said: “There is somebody here in Brooklyn that knows something and I’m urging them, I’m praying that they will come out and say something. Somebody knows something."