For the mother, father, grandmother and family of Chanel Petro-Nixon, this Father’s Day Sunday is deeper than poignant: it will mark the 10th anniversary of the last day family members saw the gifted 16-year-old Boys & Girls H.S. student and promising community leader, smiling, vibrant and alive. She was reported missing the next day.
If there’s any redeeming moment in the bitter tragic decade of wondering who stopped her young life short of its intentions, it was yesterday, Wednesday, when a press conference called by Kings County DA Ken Thompson at Restoration Plaza, just blocks from where Chanel lived, announced “the unsealing of a murder indictment charging Veron Primus with the June 2006 murder of Ms. Petro-Nixon” and the official request for an extradition “for submission to the Caribbean country of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, where the defendant is currently detained on another matter.”
Conference attendees, including Ms. Petro-Nixon’s family members who flew to New York from other cities, at the conference appeared strong, committed, diverse and determined. They applauded the work of New York law enforcement and the DA’s office in advancing the case to the point of indictment.
And in speech after speech, starting with the words of Mrs. Petro-Nixon, a woman of grace and compassion, followed by the resolute DA Thompson, commended the organized efforts of the grassroots community – led by the work of Rev. Taharka Robinson and Bruce Green of the Brooklyn Anti-Violence Coalition — to never let the memory of this young woman die.
At the press conference, the BAVC announced a renewed campaign to launching this Saturday, June 18 — the actual anniversary date of her disappearance — starting with a Justice Rally in Chanel’s memory and to jog the memories of anyone who may have seen her or something related to her on that day. The rally starts at 11:00am in front of 212 Kingston Avenue, between Sterling and Park Place, and moves to the Brevoort Houses on Fulton Street where she lived and she departed. Every faction of the community is invited to participate in this call for justice. For more information, contact: 718-600-4234.
At yesterday’s press briefing, DA Thompson said that, according to the investigation, Chanel Petro-Nixon, 16, was last seen alive on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 18, 2006 when she left her parents’ Bedford-Stuyvesant home at the Brevoort Houses to visit with a friend. Chanel stated that she would be meeting the defendant, Veron Primus, then 19, the investigation revealed. Chanel was reported missing on Monday, June 19, 2006 when she still had not returned home.
On June 22, 2006, the victim’s body was found in a trash bag in front of 212 Kingston Avenue in Crown Heights. She had been strangled. A local resident discovered the body after Department of Sanitation workers declined to remove the bag because the trash was oversized, according to the investigation.
For reasons unrelated to the Petro-Nixon case, the defendant was deported to the Caribbean island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2015.
Primus was the main person of interest in Petro-Nixon’s death, but New York police did not have enough evidence against him. NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said that the defendant had no arrests prior to Ms. Petro-Nixon’s death. The Chief acknowledged that information from police in St. Vincent and the Grenadines helped crack the Brooklyn murder case. “It’s not until we had the call from St. Vincent and we went down there (to speak with local authorities and) we got that key piece of evidence to move forward to where we are today. We’re getting more and more evidence as we move forward.”
The District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, working with the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, will seek extradition for the defendant’s return to Brooklyn. At present, the defendant is detained at a St. Vincent correctional facility.
Yesterday, Thompson announced that the defendant Veron Primus, 29, formerly of 849 Lincoln Place in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, has been indicted on one count of second-degree murder and will be arraigned following his extradition from St. Vincent. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
The case is being investigated by New York City Police Department Detective Jason Palmiera of the NYPD’s Cold Case Unit. Over the years, the case has been investigated by numerous law enforcement personnel from the 81st Precinct, the 77th Precinct and the Cold Case Unit.
Thompson said, “Finally, ten years after Chanel was murdered, we are able to move this case forward to prosecution. It is important for us that we bring Primus to Brooklyn to face justice.” Thompson said the process for an international extradition is lengthy, but officials have already begun to take steps to return Primus to New York. His office will work with the State Department and other U.S. agencies to assure Primus’ return. He urged anyone with any information to alert authorities.
“Other families may have suffered from this man,” Thompson said. “I don’t want to go too far into what evidence we collected, but we collected a lot, we need more.”
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Rachel Singer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Forensic Science Unit, Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi, Chief of Trials at the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau and Melissa Carvajal, Deputy Bureau Chief, under the supervision of Kenneth Taub, Chief, and Mark Feldman, Senior Executive Assistant District Attorney for Crime Strategies and Investigations. The District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau is working with the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs to seek extradition for the defendant’s return to Brooklyn. At present, the defendant is detained at a St. Vincent correctional facility.
June 15, 2015
Rev. Al Sharpton, President/Founder, National Action Network, on the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office
Securing an Indictment in the Case of Chanel Petro-Nixon
“I applaud DA Kenneth Thompson and the prosecutors in the Brooklyn DA’s office for securing an indictment in the case of Chanel Petro-Nixon. Their diligence in the quest to bring justice to her family and a small amount of closure is something we are deeply grateful for.
“While we know nothing will bring Chanel back, a conviction in this case will allow her family to know that law enforcement worked tirelessly to find the suspect who took their 16-year-old honor student’s life in 2006. This was a case that was investigated by the previous DA Charles Hynes who promised her parents that it would never be closed until it was finished.
“I was apprised of the case by award-winning journalist Errol Louis who fervently wrote about the case and how Chanel vanished on Father’s Day, 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 can near a vacant lot in Crown Heights.
“I appeared on America’s Most Wanted seeking anonymous phone tips and National Action Network worked on this because Chanel’s case is indicative of many cases, particularly among young women of color and it is imperative to convey that we should never give up on seeking justice.
“NAN’s Northeast Regional Director Kirsten John Foy worked to help bring closure in this case and we are proud of his work and the work that others like Errol Louis did to bring exposure to this horrific case.”
Councilmember Robert Cornegy, 36th Council District, on the Grassroots Community’s Dedication
to Keeping Chanel Petro-Nixon’s Memory Alive
Today, marks the end of a tireless search for a cruel and despicable murderer.
My prayers remain with their family as they finally receive the justice that they deserve in this search which has spanned close to a decade.
The collaboration between law enforcement, local officials and other agencies to solve the death of Chanel Petro Nixon is laudable. And a special thank you to our community for its unwavering pursuit for justice, activists like Taharka Robinson and Bruce Green held annual vigils to ensure that this care remained in our hearts and our minds.
The commitment to solving this case started before my tenure, during the leadership of Council member Al Vann. This case is an imperative to me and it continues to hold significant weight.
No matter the amount of time taken to solve this mystery, the diligent search for justice continued and the perseverance must be acknowledged.
With a District Attorney like Ken Thompson, we are closer to solving crimes that have been nearly impossible to explain and as a result our community begins to feel more safe and united.
We aim to live in a community that is peaceful and non-violent, but it starts with you. If you see something, it is our duty to say something. Once every community member contributes to protecting their neighborhood, together, we make a positive difference. My office is always available to aid constituents in their quests to further improve the community and we urge you to reach out and share your suggestions.
Together we can foster an environment where gruesome murders such as Chanel Petro Nixon’s are nonexistent.
As we continue to keep the family in our prayers, I ask of you to do all that you can to protect our community’s children.