Nearly 10 years to the day of her disappearance, Chanel Petro-Nixon’s family on Wednesday received a sense of closure as New York authorities indicted a male classmate in her death, The New York Times reports.
Chanel was last seen in June 2006 when she left her house in New York City’s Bedford-Stuyvesant community to interview at a local Applebee’s. She never returned. Her mother, Lucita Petro-Nixon, filed a missing persons report within 24 hours.
Three days later, a woman in neighboring Crown Heights found the 16-year-old’s body in the trash, strangled and half clothed.
In the weeks that followed, the family put up posters offering a reward for any information regarding Chanel’s death. They only received deafening silence.
Each year, Chanel’s family marches to commemorate her death. Family and friends say she was a stellar student and enjoyed reading.
On Wednesday in front of the Applebee’s where Chanel was last seen alive, Ken Thompson, the Brooklyn District Attorney, held a press conference announcing the indictment and details surrounding the case. Chanel’s mother called the moment “bittersweet,” saying, “Finally we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The man in question, Vernon Primus, 29, was always a person of interest, according to investigators. Primus and Chanel met up at her interview on that fateful day in June. They were not only classmates, but attended the same church.
Primus is currently serving a sentence on the island of St. Vincent for kidnapping one woman and raping another. He was deported there after serving a previous jail sentence in New York where he was found guilty of assault and defying an order of protection a woman filed against him. Primus was accused of raping said woman as well, but was found not guilty.
Two incidents pinned Primus down as the key suspect in the case. Robert K. Boyce, Chief of Detectives, said information obtained in April led investigators to believe that Primus was involved in Chanel’s murder. Boyce shared that information would not be made public.
In May, WPIX conducted an interview with one of the women Primus raped. She said that he locked her up for three months in a shed and showed her news articles about Chanel’s murder.