Two men have been arrested in connection with the cold-blooded murder of a Black gay teenager who was shot and left burning on freight train tracks in Brooklyn, New York in February.
Isiah Baez, 19, was taken into custody by the New York Police Department (NYPD) on Thursday (11 May) and charged with murder, criminal possession of a weapon and tampering with physical evidence in the murder of 19-year-old DeAndre Matthews.
Baez is the second person to be arrested for the killing of Matthews. His accomplice Remy McPrecia, 24, was arrested on 4 May and charged with concealing a corpse and evidence tampering.
Following news of the arrest, Matthews’ mother, Danielle Matthews, told News 12 the Bronx that Baez “deserves any and everything that he gets”.
“He deserves every day to rot in that jail,” she said.
DeAndre studied criminal justice at SUNY Broome Community College and he was paying his way through school by working at Buggy Service Center, where pushchairs are repaired and cleaned. His mother described him as a “beautiful soul”.
“He was just a beautiful soul. He was a great kid. Never had police contact. First in my family to go to college. He was amazing.”
Matthews was last seen on 6 February. On the day of his disappearance, he left work and went home to borrow his mother’s car to go out.
His mother’s Jeep Cherokee was found burned the next day, leading to the discovery of his body.
Police found him dead from a gunshot wound to the head, with “significant burn wounds throughout his body”, lying on train tracks close to Brooklyn College. Matthews also showed signs of smoke inhalation, police said.
The police are yet to establish a motive for the murder of Matthews, although they found evidence that Baez and DeAndre had been communicating for a year and pictures of the two of them were on Matthews’ phone.
His mother told Daily News that she believes her son was killed because Baez was “hiding his true identity”.
Matthews’ sister, Dajanae Gillespie, told NBC New York that his murder was likely due to his sexuality.
“He was gay. And I feel as if this could’ve been a hate crime. I want to know why [the killer] did it. What was the reason?
“DeAndre wasn’t a violent person. This wasn’t for retaliation. He wasn’t in the streets,” she said.
Anyone who has witnessed or experienced a hate crime is urged to call the police on 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit theTrue Vision website. In an emergency, always dial 999.