JAMAICA, Queens (PIX11) – In surveillance footage released by the NYPD to PIX 11 News, 24-year old Marisha Cheong is led from a home on 145th Street in Jamaica, Queens on the day she disappeared last year.
The date was December 19, 2012, just six days before Christmas.
Detectives from the 103rd Squad in Queens told PIX 11 an unknown woman entered the house, owned by the family of Cheong’s boyfriend, about 11 am last December 19th. Thirteen minutes later, the female is seen leading Cheong out of the house by her left arm. When Cheong pulls back on the sidewalk, to close the gate, the woman tugs her back down the block.
Nearly two months after the surveillance footage captured this scene, on February 16, 2013, Cheong’s body washed up on the shore of Breezy Point, Queens. She was wearing colorful pajama pants and Uggs, the same outfit she was seen in the day she disappeared.
Detectives told PIX 11 they’re looking for new leads in the case. Cheong’s boyfriend told them last December 20th that she’d texted him the day she vanished, telling him she wasn’t coming back.
Cheong’s mother and younger sister were getting odd text messages the afternoon of her disappearance, telling them she was “@71”. The family didn’t know what this meant, but later, Cheong’s mother said the boyfriend, Latchman Balkaran, told her he was picking Cheong up at a train station on December 19th. There is a 71st Avenue subway station in Forest Hills, Queens—on Queens Boulevard. The mother, BiBi Ali, told PIX 11 the boyfriend later said Cheong didn’t show up at the train.
Det. James Lusk of the 103rd Squad told PIX 11 the text messages claimed to be coming from one location, but the cell phone records said differently.
“We found she was in a totally different area of Queens and it didn’t add up,” Lusk told PIX 11.
Sobbing in her Nassau County home, Ali recounted how she was forced to identify her daughter, by looking at a photo of her earrings. “I said, ‘I need you to bring the pajamas to me to see!’ They said they can’t bring the pajamas but would bring the picture. When I saw the picture, I know—because she had the bedroom slippers.” It turned out Marisha Cheong often wore slippers that matched her pajama pants.
Detectives told PIX 11 Cheong’s last, cell phone communications indicate she was near the Addabo Bridge, between Howard Beach and Broad Channel. They think Cheong may have been dumped from there, possibly still alive, because her body later washed up in Breezy Point.
When Cheong’s remains were found, her boyfriend—Latchman Balkaran—spoke to PIX 11 and vowed to find her killer. “My life is turned to finding who did this,” 26-year old Balkaran said to the camera. “I am going to find who did this.”
But Cheong’s angry family told Balkaran not to attend the February funeral, upset that he didn’t call them during the two-months Cheong was missing.
The family said they learned an ex-girlfriend was texting Balkaran in the days before Marisha Cheong disappeared.
Now, detectives want to identify the female who led Marisha Cheong out of the house on 145th Street in Jamaica.
PIX 11 begins a two-part special report on the case Tuesday night at 10 PM.
Anyone with information is asked to call NYPD Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.
There is a $22,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.