LIMESTONE, Maine — A Loring Job Corps student waived extradition earlier this week after being arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the January death of 14-year-old Shaniesha Forbes in New York City.
Forbes’ body was found naked and with burn marks on it on Jan. 6 on a Brooklyn beach, according to multiple news reports. The death was not ruled a homicide until May 2.
Christian Ferdinand, 20, was questioned Monday in Limestone by two homicide detectives with the New York Police Department assisted by two detectives with the Maine State Police major crimes unit, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
The New York detectives also were assisted by members of the Limestone Police Department.
Forbes’ Brooklyn community is relieved an arrest has been made, according to Harold Crawford, a community advocate with 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care.
“Everyone is at ease right now that they did catch the person who did it,” Crawford told the BDN by phone Thursday from the organization’s Brooklyn headquarters. He said he has been in communication with Forbes’ mother and maternal and paternal grandmothers through his advocacy work.
New York detectives reached out to Maine law enforcement in March for help on the case, according to information released Thursday morning by the Limestone Police Department.
“In early March a New York City homicide detective contacted our department to assist their agency in locating 20-year-old Christian Ferdinand for questioning in their ongoing investigation of a January 2013 homicide,” Limestone Police Chief Stacey Mahan said in a statement released Thursday. “On May 13th detectives from New York City and detectives from the Maine State Police met with Mr. Ferdinand here in Maine.”
According to McCausland, Ferdinand was taken into custody without incident on Monday evening and held overnight at the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton.
“The detectives felt that with the information they already had and what they gleaned in speaking to Mr. Ferdinand that they had enough to arrest him,” John Pluto, Aroostook County assistant district attorney, said Thursday. “By the end of the day Monday they had obtained an arrest warrant.”
Ferdinand was arrested that night on a fugitive from justice charge and appeared the next morning before Justice Allan Hunter via video for an initial hearing during which he waived extradition back to New York, Pluto said. He returned to New York with the detectives later that day.
According to an email response from NYPD on Thursday, Ferdinand now faces a charge of second-degree murder in that state.
Pluto said he has no knowledge of where Ferdinand is originally from or how long he has been enrolled in Job Corps.
Calls to the Loring Job Corps Center in Limestone were not returned Thursday.
Late Thursday afternoon, however, Jobs Corps Region One, which oversees centers in New England, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, did respond with a brief statement via email simply saying, “Our condolences are extended to the family of the young woman and Job Corps is cooperating fully with authorities.”
The New York Post reported that he had suffocated the young girl in his apartment, where he allegedly kept the body for several days before taking it and setting it on fire in Brooklyn.
Maine police would not confirm that account or comment on specifics of the case, referring questions to the New York Police Department. Calls to NYPD were not immediately returned on Thursday.
On Thursday, Crawford said it appeared Forbes and Ferdinand met over a social media website. Crawford said he did not know which site they were on and added that the girl kept the relationship secret from her family.
“We are hoping these young people get the message to please not keep things secret [and] anytime someone on a social media site tells you to keep secrets, that’s when it’s time to cut it off,” Crawford said.
Crawford said he believes the time lag between the discovery of Forbes’ body and NYPD’s declaration of the case as a homicide was due to officials awaiting final autopsy results.
“I want to give the officers of NYPD credit,” Crawford said. “Once they determined it was foul play they went out there and apprehended the guy.”
Mahan said in his statement, “The Limestone Police Department wants to first express our sympathies to the family and friends of Shaniesha Forbes.”
Job Corps, a program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, has 125 training centers across the country, including two in Maine — Penobscot Job Corps in Bangor and Loring Job Corps in Limestone. The centers provide free job training in manufacturing, construction and other career paths, as well as transportation and temporary housing for those who need it. Training can take eight months to two years, according to the Job Corps website.