HIGHBRIDGE, the Bronx — Police charged a man with murder and manslaughter on Thursday in the Bronx death of a teen who was stabbed and set on fire in a Highbridge apartment, an NYPD spokesperson said.
Victim Winston Ortiz, 18, was reportedly in an argument with 22-year-old Adones Betances before the attack shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday in a fifth-floor hallway of a building on Woodycrest Avenue near West 165th Street. Ortiz did not live in the building and it’s not yet clear why he was there.
Police said Ortiz was stabbed three times in his torso before being doused with an accelerant and set on fire.
Neighbors smelled fire and heard Ortiz scream, police said. They came to his aid and poured water on him.
Officers responding to reports of an assault found the teenage victim barely conscious with extensive burns and stab wounds to his chest.
The teen was rushed to a local hospital in critical condition but succumbed to his injuries.
“We are heartbroken and want justice,” his grandmother told PIX11. ”He was a very good boy, very educated.”
Ortiz’s family told PIX11’s Anthony DiLorenzo that the teen had just broken up with his girlfriend days before his murder.
They are now wondering if that had something to do with the deadly attack.
Officials believe the attack was related to Ortiz’s relationship with Betances’ sister. Police sources said he was angry over the relationship.
Ortiz was “loved by all who came to know him,” his aunt wrote on a GoFundMe campaign setup to help ease financial costs as his parents prepare to bury their child.
“He was active in his church and a role model for all of his younger brothers and cousins. Hew as bound for greatness,” his family wrote.
Ortiz attended Siloe Pentecostal Church in the Bronx. Ivan Melendez, youth counselor and Sunday school educator at the church, mourned the teen’s death.
“We pray that they may be strengthened and given peace in the midst of their heartache,” he said in a statement. “As Youth counselors, we got to know Winston on a personal level and my wife even more as she was also his Sunday school teacher.”
He described the teen as soft spoken and shy. Ortiz “always had the ability to make you laugh with one of his witty remarks,” Melendez said.
“He had a calm demeanor and was an active participant in our youth society, rarely missing a service — even our zoom meetings — due to the pandemic,” Melendez said. “Winston also served as a sound technician helping out the worship team. We may not understand why but we know and trust that God is sovereign. We loved Winston very much and he will be sorely missed. RIP Winston forever in our hearts.”
The teen is survived by his mother and father, two younger brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, according to the GoFundMe post.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.