NewsNational News


Could Caribbean kidnapping be key to honor student’s cold case murder in NYC?

Posted at 10:59 PM, May 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-09 22:59:58-04

NEW YORK - Ever since a Brooklyn honors student's body was discovered stuffed inside a trash can in 2006, New York City authorities have been trying to find her killer - now, that hunt has led them to the Caribbean island paradise of St. Vincent.

New York City detectives have long eyed Veron Primus, a former classmate of 16-year-old Chanel Petro-Nixon, as the main person of interest in the girl's grisly slaying. Now, after St. Vincent authorities rescued a woman Vincent allegedly held for months in a wooden enclosure, investigators in the 2006 cold case tell WPIX they have reasons to think Primus may be behind both crimes.

Petro-Nixon's murder nearly 10 years ago made national news, and, as the infamous crime gained notoriety and speculation, also became the subject of cable cold case shows in the years after her death.

"It is unbelievable that, a decade later, we are still talking about Chanel and the outrage of no one having been brought to justice," said Al Sharpton. "It is a matter of devaluing the lives of our children. And I am the father of two daughters and that's all I could think about in 2006. This could be my daughter."

Chanel had everything going for her, according to Crime Watch Daily. She was an honor student who wanted to be a psychiatric nurse.

Chanel left her Brooklyn apartment on Father's Day in 2006, telling her mom she was meeting Primus to fill out job applications at an Applebee's restaurant.

"(Primus) was a young man which I knew very well. He came to the house many times," said Lucita Petro, Chanel's mother. Chanel also knew him from church.

"He was a nice guy so I didn't get any bad vibes from him," said Kanika Ashterman, Chanel's best friend.

But Chanel never returned home. Her family and friends frantically searched. Ashterman called Primus, who claimed that Petro-Nixon never showed up to go to the restaurant with him.

Cops initially listed Chanel as a runaway. The lead detective on the case told WPIX that, four days later, the trash collector made a gruesome discovery.

"The sanitation department came by to remove the trash and one bag was too heavy," said NYPD Homicide Detective Chris Scandole. "A resident of the building over there came out to separate the trash."

"So the lady opened up the bag and that's when she saw my daughter," said Lucita.

"Yeah, she had on blue jean shorts and a white tank top," said Standole. "The body was folded into the bag almost like a fetal position and the shorts were partially pulled down."

It was the body of Chanel. The autopsy reportedly shows Chanel had been hit in the face and head.

"Then that's when they told me unfortunately that Chanel was strangled to death," said Lucita.

Police have never linked Primus physically to the killing, and he's never been charged.

Years later, Primus was charged and ultimately acquitted of the sexual assault of two women. A third woman claimed he tried to hold her against her will, and she obtained a protection order. Primus violated that order and went to prison for criminal contempt.

In May 2015, after Veron Primus finished doing state prison time in New York for criminal contempt, he was deported to the island of Saint Vincent, his birthplace.

St. Vincent is a tiny island in the southern Caribbean Sea, some 2,000 miles and a world away from New York City. Primus moved to a house in a village at the foot of a volcano. He reconnected with an old grade-school friend, Mewanah Hadaway, and they started dating.

But Hadaway, 24, says he turned violent, and his rage, she says, turned her from girlfriend into captive.

Hadaway was unaware that Primus had gotten into trouble in the United States. She says Primus, 29, held her captive for three and a half months in a makeshift dungeon, locked, she says, in a tiny room in the basement of a house at the foot of a volcano. Hadaway's amazing story of survival is exactly what might give New York City cops what they need to solve the murder of Chanel Petro-Nixon.

Primus allegedly made statements about killing another girl in the United States, Hadaway told Crime Watch Daily. When Primus returned to St. Vincent, Hadaway says they picked up where they left off, and he told her about Chanel.

"I remember him giving me the article to read about her missing," said Hadaway.

Hadaway claims Primus soon became violent, so she broke it off.

"He used to threaten me, like when we got into arguments and things, he would threaten me with knives, he made attempts at me four times," said Hadaway. She filed a police report. She says after she filed the police report, Primus left her alone -- until New Year's Day.

"He was messaging me and tell me he had something for me, and to come and collect it, so that is how I ended up there," said Hadaway. "When it was time for me to leave, I couldn't leave."

Menawah Hadaway says Primus locked her in a tiny room and made her strip naked from the waist up, and threatened to kill her if she tried to escape.

"He would say he would get to me faster than they would get into the house," said Hadaway.

She tried to escape thru the window, but she says Primus caught her. This all happened right under the nose of his great aunt, who was too afraid to show her face on camera.

When Menawah Hadaway tried to escape the first time to perhaps seek help from a house next door, Primus allegedly found her in the act and punished her. He used an empty grave to threaten her after that attempt.

The days turned into weeks, and Hadaway says no one suspected anything wrong because Primus sent fake texts from her own phone telling family and friends, "I'm in Antigua," a nearby island.

"And sometimes he would let me send voicemails to them so that they would know that I'm the one that's writing," said Hadaway.

Her biggest fear, she says, was that she'd never again see her mother who is dying of cancer, or her 4-year-old boy.

Then one day, Hadaway saw a way out of her prison.

"He was cooking and he wouldn't leave me in the room 'cause he would think I would escape through the window, so he brought me into the kitchen and told me to sit on a chair," said Hadaway. "He went outside to wash a pot and that is when I put the note into the box."

The note said: "I'm here all the time. Get help!" She put it in a box containing insulin. Primus' great aunt is diabetic and Hadaway knew her caretaker stored the insulin in the refrigerator.

The caretaker found the note and called police, but Primus forced her to give a fake name to the cops.

"He told me to tell them my name was 'Kimberly, or I will kill you,'" said Hadaway. "They asked me if I was sure he was right there, so I said 'Yes'."

Mewanah Hadaway says she went back into her dungeon, afraid she'd be buried in the grave after the police left. But just then, the caretaker bravely told cops that she's not "Kimberly," that she's Mewanah, and she's being held captive.

Hadaway calls the caretaker her "Insulin Angel."

Police arrested Veron Primus on a charge of kidnapping. While searching his place, officers found something else -- Hadaway's terrifying ordeal might help police solve two murders in two places, one in St. Vincent, the other in New York City.

St. Vincent police say after they arrested Primus, they found evidence connecting him to the stabbing murder of real estate agent Sharleen Greaves.

"Knives were found at his premises," said St. Vincent Police Superintendent Ruth Jacobs. "The most important piece of evidence that was found is a key."

Jacobs says it was the key to Greaves's car. Even Greaves' family is stunned. They say she never mentioned Primus.

Greaves' murder and Mewanah Hadaway's story of survival are big news on the tiny island of St. Vincent, which is about the size of Philadelphia.

Primus was arrested and locked up in the local jail, charged with the murder of Sharleen Greaves. Greaves' mother, Inether Bailey-Holder, was at Primus' first court appearance.

St. Vincent law doesn't require Primus to enter a plea or speak to police, but he voluntarily spoke to a couple of NYPD detectives who flew down to St. Vincent.

Primus talked for about 45 minutes, according to Superintendent Jacobs. Then, he asked for a lawyer. Jacobs said they did ask Primus in-depth questions about Chanel Petro-Nixon's death.

Law enforcement sources say that two investigators from the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office went to St. Vincent recently and met with local prosecutors. The district attorney is now exploring the possibility of extraditing Primus to the United States.

For now, Veron Primus faces trial in the Caribbean.