The manhunt for the suspect in last week’s near-fatal stabbing of a Woodhaven teenager continues as police released new pictures Tuesday of the man they believe committed the vicious assault.
Seventeen-year-old Natasha Martinez was attacked outside her 85th Street home at around 11:30 p.m. on July 26 after she walked home from her job at McDonald’s on 101st Avenue in Ozone Park. She was stabbed 11 times in her back and torso, but was able to crawl into her home where her mother called 911. She was taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in critical condition, but her status was later upgraded to stable and she is expected to survive.
Police say the suspect fled the scene toward Jamaica Avenue and was dressed in a white hooded sweatshirt. The first pictures released of the suspect last week showed him in a white or light-colored hooded sweatshirt walking away from the scene.
But new pictures released Tuesday show the suspect, a black man, in a black T-shirt, though he has a light-colored garment around his neck. Police still say he was wearing a sweatshirt at the time of the stabbing. The suspect may have fled Woodhaven on the J train.
Since the stabbing, police have been following multiple leads. Originally, investigators believed the attack may have been linked to a similar stabbing that left a woman near death near her home in Queens Village on June 25.
In that case, Kerline Denizard, 36, a home health aide, was stabbed seven times in the neck on 221st Street at around 5 a.m. She also survived, but remains hospitalized.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters last week that the similarities between the two incidents — both stabbings took place late at night in residential neighborhoods by suspects with similar descriptions — led police to investigate a possible connection. Neither Martinez nor Denizard were robbed.
The second lead is that Martinez’s stabbing was gang related and a source close to the investigation said that lead is now considered the more likely option.
A man sources say is a member of the Latin Kings gang was picked up by police Monday night and taken to the 102nd Precinct for questions, but he was not arrested and was later released.
What ties Martinez may have to gangs is unclear. She does not have a criminal record and is not a member of a gang, but sources close to the investigation said she may have been involved in an argument with a gang member.
In the meantime Martinez remains hospitalized and had to have her spleen removed, according to published reports.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 577-TIPS (8477).The public can also submit tips by logging onto nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting 274637 (CRIMES), then entering TIP577. All tips are strictly confidential.