Arrest made in 2005 cold-case murder of dismembered Brooklyn teen found in subway tunnel
BROOKLYN (WPIX) — The Brooklyn District Attorney's office on Wednesday is set to announce an arrest in the gruesome, 2005 cold-case murder of Brooklyn teen, Rashawn Brazell.
The 19-year-old was last seen on Valentine's Day in 2005, and was supposed to meet his mother, Desire, for lunch.
Instead, three days later, the teen's body parts were discovered in a subway tunnel on the A line in Brooklyn, between the Nostrand and Franklin Avenue stations.
"It was cut with precision," former Brooklyn Homicide Detective Richard Amato told PIX11 about Brazell's body. "Someone who had knowledge of the anatomy did this."
Brazell's case was featured on the nationally televised crime show "America's Most Wanted" three different times, but the case continued to confound police and prosecutors for a dozen years.
The suspect in the case, who has not yet been publicly identified, is set to appear in Brooklyn Supreme Court at 11:30 a.m.
District Attorney Eric Gonzalez is preparing to hold a news briefing with the victim's mother, Desire, who is a social service worker, after the court hearing. The suspect has been a person of interest for the past six months.
PIX11 interviewed Desire Brazell in 2014 for a Mary Murphy Mystery segment.
At the time, Brazell tearfully told PIX11, "I don't want him to be just the face on the poster," referring to the Crime Stoppers flyers that were plastered at subway stations on the anniversary of the crime, promising $22,000 in reward money.
Rashawn Brazell was gay and highly charismatic, and there were conflicting theories about what the motive for the crime was.
But there was no doubt the murder was gruesome.
Brazell was last seen leaving his family's apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn about 7:30 a.m. on Feb. 14, 2005, walking toward the Gates Avenue elevated train station.
It is not clear whether he ever got on the train.
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Three days later, Brazell's torso, legs and one arm were found in trash bags in a subway tunnel on the A line.
Another arm and hand were discovered a couple of days later at a Greenpoint, Brooklyn recycling plant.
Brazell's head was never recovered.
"I didn't get to look on him again," Desire Brazell told PIX11 through tears in 2014. "No one deserves to end up being thrown away, like they're just trash."
Detectives found a key piece of evidence in the case early on: a black, Rooster brand tool bag that had the victim's blood inside, among tool bits. The bag used to be sold by Lowe's.
The then-unsolved case became the focus of a documentary by filmmaker Terik King, who called the project "Rashawn's Desire: The Untold Story of Rashawn Brazell."
In the documentary, Rashawn's high school principal recalled that Rashawn used to work at Burger King and other jobs, trying to earn a living.
"I learned about his charitable nature, and that's not something typical for a 19-year-old," King told PIX11. "I think Shawn had a blind spot when it came to how evil people could be."
There was a scholarship in Rashawn Brazell's name, and the man who was running the fund got a taunting message one year that sounded like a confession from the then-unknown killer.
"The tone of it was, 'he wasn't an angel, I paid someone to do it,'" Terik King told PIX11.
Desire Brazell is haunted by the feeling that her son was held against his will and tortured before his murder.
"I just go over in my head, there was nothing I could do for him," she said.