A 42-year-old Brooklyn woman has been charged in the killing of a missing mother of four whose partially dismembered body was found in a parking lot on Long Island earlier this month, police say.
Leah Cuevas is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 27-year-old Chinelle Latoya Browne, who lived at the same Brooklyn address as the 42-year-old suspect. At her arraignment in Islip Thursday, the judge said Cuevas was "charged with the worst conduct a human can be charged with" and remanded her without bail.
Cuevas, who has no criminal history, did not enter a plea and didn't speak to reporters as she was led to court.
Prosecutors say Cuevas and Browne had an argument about rent and utilities on July 4, and police were called to the Brownsville building. The following day, the women again got into an argument in the basement after Browne went down to do laundry, according to prosecutors. Browne was heard by neighbors yelling "No, Leah!" and "I'm sorry," and that was the last time she was seen or heard.
Her mutilated torso was discovered in a weedy, vacant parking lot in Bay Shore early on July 8 by people going to the nearby Fire Island ferry. Prosecutors said the clothing on the torso matched the ones last seen worn by Browne when she had gone to the wash her clothing.
A search warrant was executed at the Brownsville building on July 10, and investigators found blood splatter in Cuevas' apartment and hallway that belonged to Browne.
A medical examiner has determined that Browne died of multiple stab wounds to the neck and torso. Prosecutors say she was killed in Brooklyn, and her dismembered remains were scattered on Long Island.
On July 17, a severed head was found on Boylston Street in Hempstead. On July 9, a homeowner found an arm with women's clothing attached to it in his front yard on Webb Avenue. The next day, someone else discovered another arm in their yard about a half-mile away, near Stewart Avenue and Cornell Street.
Investigators are looking to see if a second person played a role in disposing the victim's body and planned to question Cuevas' husband about the case.
Cuevas was arrested Wednesday by U.S. Marshals in Bay Shore, where was believed to be staying with her sister in a basement of a home.
Browne's family were in court Thursday during Cuevas' appearance. Her husband Dale Browne, who flew to New York from Guyana, said his wife had set out to the U.S. to try get citizenship and make a better life for their family. She had kissed their four young children goodbye when she left, and now he was facing the difficult task of explaining to them their mother was gone.
"She wanted her family with her, and she did all that it took to do that," he said.
Browne's aunt Pauline Claxton said, "We love her. It's very difficult for us at this time. She means the world to us and her children and husband."