How I Caught My Killer (2023) s01e05 Episode Script

You can see the panic.


Brooklyn, New York.

Fourteen-year-old Shaniesha Forbes is
given her first real taste of freedom,
a cell phone.
- The phone was a form of keeping
track and to ensure her safety.
NARRATOR: Which is why
everyone is shocked
when Shaniesha vanishes
without a trace.
- I was messaging her through
Facebook and getting no response.
baby is out there.
She's only 14 and
she's not home.
the unthinkable

She's found dead under
mysterious circumstances.
- She had no bullet wounds,
she had no stab wounds.
She had no defensive wounds on
her hands or anything like that.
NARRATOR: Who would
wanna hurt Shaniesha?
- Anyone technically
could have been a suspect.

NARRATOR: But what no one
knows is that her phone,
which helped her find a
little bit of freedom,
will also help catch her killer.
- That phone ultimately
solved her murder.

Theme music playing ♪
MAN 1: She solved
her own murder
from beyond the grave.
MAN 2: The fitness
app on the phone,
it was overwhelming evidence.
I've been haunted
by the visions ♪
That I've seen
with my own eyes ♪
And the only way to find you ♪
Is to go beneath the lies ♪

MAN: She did help
catch this killer.

NARRATOR: On the first
Sunday of January 2013
[siren wailing]
investigators are called
to a gruesome scene
in Brooklyn, New York.
- A, B common marker. Take one.

retired Detective James Normile.
This is a basic time line.

On January 6, 2013, a
dead body was discovered
by someone walking
on Gerritsen Beach.

[siren wailing]
NARRATOR: The victim is a very
young African-American girl
concealed in garbage bags.

Her identity is a mystery.
[helicopter blades whirring]

Detective Luis Sanchez
from the 63rd Precinct
was assigned to
the investigation,
and I was assigned
to the case as well.

She was partially clothed.
She had some burn
marks on her face,
her hands, her
breasts, her vagina.

NARRATOR: Investigators
find the remnants
of a beach party,
an extinguished fire
and empty beer cans.
Could this be
connected to the body?

had no bullet wounds,
she had no stab wounds.
She had no defensive wounds on
her hands or anything like that.
So we were wondering, was
it some sort of an accident
or something that went bad
that was never reported
to the police out of fear
'cause teenagers don't
wanna get in trouble.

NARRATOR: Maybe the young girl
had one too many beers

She fell into the fire

And sought relief in the water.

In terms of evidence,
We were involved in checking
cans for fingerprints and stuff.
They had located a receipt
from a liquor store.
Fairly new. Didn't appear
to be laying out there long.
detectives also find
a pair of Uggs, a type of boot.
- At the time there was a number
of missing cases in New York City
that fell under the same
height, weight, build.
investigators don't know
who this young girl is yet.
[tape rewinding]

Two days earlier, Brooklyn
teenager Shaniesha Forbes
hops on a bus to
her high school.
She can't wait to show off
her brand-new cell phone.
And Shaniesha's
mother Sandra Price
knows just how much
that phone meant to her.
Shaniesha got her iPhone,
she was very excited.
She was screaming
and jumping around.
It feels so good,
like you said ♪

Kerri-Ann T. Thomas.
Shaniesha is my cousin.
She got that phone for
Christmas as a tracking device.
The phone was a form of keeping
track and to ensure her safety.

SANDRA: On January 4th, 2013,
on her way to school,
I texted her,
"Are you on the bus now?"
She would say, "Yes,
I'm on the bus."
NARRATOR: It's the last
text Shaniesha's mother
will ever receive
from her daughter.

That evening, Shaniesha
doesn't come home from school.
[line rings]
- We all tried to call her
and we didn't hear anything.
We didn't get a response.
[keypad clacking]
KERRI-ANN: At the time,
I'm thinking she's
at a friend's house.
She is gonna show up.
NARRATOR: But when
Shaniesha's mom
contacts her school,
she's given some
disturbing news.
Her daughter didn't
attend classes that day.

- So that's when we started
getting real worried.

Seven o'clock at night
I called her uncle
and he said, "Call
9-1-1," which I did.
[line rings]
I told them that my
baby's out there
[siren wailing]
and I told them her age.
She's only 14 and
she's not home.
And that's when they
told me they don't go out
and look for anyone
until after 24 hours.

"On January 4th, 2013,
"Shaniesha Forbes' mother
Sandra Price calls 9-1-1,
"but is told that she must
wait 24 hours before a report
can be filed for
a missing person."

KERRI-ANN: A 14-year-old girl
did not show up to school,
did not show up at home,
and law enforcement is telling the family
that they have to wait to report it.

of missing person cases
are also teenagers
that are missing.
Most of them get cleared up by
themselves within a day or two.
Some involve knocking on a
couple of doors and find out
that someone's son or daughter
is now staying with a friend
'cause they just
chose not to go home.

possible that Shaniesha
decided to take off
without telling her mother?
Her loved ones don't believe it.
That's not the girl they know.

very trustworthy.
Very, very trustworthy.
We were very close.

- She loved her mom.
Pick up your feet, child ♪
NARRATOR: That night,
Shaniesha's family
desperately search for her.
World knows no peace, child ♪
SANDRA: I was with
my oldest daughter
driving around in the area.

I don't wanna think the worse.
So I was just looking for her

Hoping that I will see her.

NARRATOR: The next morning,
the family continues their hunt.

Until finally, 24 hours after
Shaniesha's mom reports her missing,
the police get involved.

Callow was assigned
to the missing
person investigation
and began to speak
to the family.
He had gotten Shaniesha's
phone number, very important,
and he submitted the
paperwork, subpoenas and such,
to her cell phone provider
to start getting us
her call detail records
so we could see who she spoke
with or who she was texting.

Unfortunately, phone records
don't come very quick.

a case like this,
without Shaniesha's
phone records,
detectives don't
have much to go on.

[siren wailing]

SANDRA: Police started
looking around
[indistinct radio chatter]
going by Shaniesha
friends' houses

Searching on social media
to see who she last contacted.

NARRATOR: When she
Shaniesha's sisters
check her Facebook page,
they make an
important discovery.

On the morning she disappeared,
Shaniesha had posted
that she was meeting an unnamed
male friend for a movie.

meant that she went
to the movie theaters the
day that she went missing,
at least based off of
the Facebook posts.

NARRATOR: Shaniesha had
1,200 Facebook friends.

Was this mysterious
"him" one of them?

The investigation into Shaniesha's
disappearance continues
until Monday, January 7th,
three days after she
first goes missing.

When detectives show up at
Sandra Price's front door
There was a number of
missing cases in Brooklyn
and one in Queens,
so it potentially
could have been them.
We went and spoke to
those families as well.
But just based on
some of the clothing,
we believe that it
was Shaniesha Forbes.

SANDRA: Officer Sanchez
and Officer Normile
came with photos of,
they said a young
lady that was found
and if we can identify to see if
that's my baby or not.

And my daughter screamed out
and she started crying.
She break down
and I was in shock
when I look at her picture.

Many places ♪
Many things we
like to run from ♪
We want to run ♪
knew it was her.
Even though it was, you
know, she was disfigured.

KERRI-ANN: She borrowed
her mom's Ugg boots
to wear to school that day,
and it was those Ugg
boots that was found
[siren wailing]
on the beach.

You know when you're a little girl and
you, like, put on your mom's shoes?
She did that as a
little girl and, um,
and she did that her last
day on this Earth as well.

SHAY: We were
definitely in shock
and just wondering, like,
who would do such a terrible
thing to a 14-year-old?
Just It's horrible.

NARRATOR: A 14-year-old
transfixed by her
brand-new cell phone
and her most prized possession
was tracking her every move
the day she was murdered.

Many places ♪
Many things we
like to run from ♪
We want to run ♪
members just identified
the burned body found on
Brooklyn's Gerritsen Beach
as missing 14-year-old
Shaniesha Forbes.

- My sisters and my mother,
we were all extremely

KERRI-ANN: She's 14.
[voice breaking] She's
a child, she's a baby.
I just I couldn't believe it.
I was so sure she was
gonna come back home.

- At that time it was like the
world was coming close to an end.
I was, like, shut down.

- It's tough to tell anyone
that a loved one is dead,
let alone a child.

NARRATOR: Especially
this child.

[laughter echoes]
SANDRA: She's a
very loving person,
very caring and very
funny most of the time.

KERRI-ANN: Shaniesha
loved to dance.
She was really good at it.
She would make videos.
Practicing dance moves from the
different music videos that was out.
She literally would,
like, light up a room.

family grapples
with their unspeakable loss,
investigators search for clues.
But there's a problem.

During the autopsy, the medical
examiner has a difficult time
determining the cause of death.
- She had no water in her lungs,
nothing to indicate that she
was a victim of a drowning.

And she had burns on her face,
hands, breasts and vagina.

We come to find the burns themselves
are all appear to be postmortem.
If someone dies in the fire, there's
indications inside your system.
She had none of that. So we
knew she wasn't in a fire.

At that point, we
started looking at it
as more of a homicide as
opposed to maybe a tragedy.

NARRATOR: But it will take a
battery of time-consuming tests
for the medical examiner
to officially rule
the death a homicide.

[indistinct radio chatter]
In the meantime,
investigators have questions.

Why was her body
burned after she died?

Was it to conceal her identity?

And where was Shaniesha
the day she went missing?

NEWSCASTER: Her body was
found in Gerritsen Beach,
four miles from her home.
She was found naked, burned
and partially buried in sand.

NARRATOR: While they wait for
Shaniesha's phone records

Normile and Sanchez
focus on who she might have
been with the day she vanished.

Was it the "him" she mentioned
in her Facebook post?

very active in social media.
So we began to go through
that, piecemeal, looking at it.
You gotta put a name
to a face and go out
and find them to interview them.

NARRATOR: With Shaniesha's
1,200 Facebook friends,
it's a tedious and
lengthy process.
I'll follow your lead ♪
I'll follow you
down, down, down ♪
And the family feels that investigators
aren't moving fast enough.
[siren wailing]
SHAY: We weren't receiving
a lot of information
from the police officers,
so we decided to see if
we can find something.
[keyboard keys clacking]

NARRATOR: They begin with
Shaniesha's Facebook post
about going to the movies.
KERRI-ANN: The movie theater
that Shaniesha goes to
is near her high school.
SANDRA: We went there.
We try to get the guy that's
in charge of the cameras

To show us an image if
she was there or not.

NARRATOR: Unfortunately,
they're too late.
After seven days,
the tapes are erased.
- [voice breaking] They
said, "If you came yesterday,
you would have saw the footage from
the date that you're asking for."
And we're like,
"Did the cops come?"

And they said that
they never came.

It was like a
no-brainer to go there.
We were very frustrated
because we were a day late
from being able to
see who she was with.

- Someone has to go
to jail for this.
Someone out there
knows what happened.
They knew that she was going to
that movie theater with some guy.

KERRI-ANN: We immediately
put up flyers.

Thousands of flyers.

We got the community
to come out.
We lit candles,
there were posters.

I immediately called
connections in media.
The goal was to
push this story out
so that we can gather as
much information as possible.

Every single person
that lived in New York
was going to know her
name, Shaniesha Forbes.

investigation like this
or in any case, there's a lot of
bases that have to be covered.
It was pretty laborious.

Investigators follow up
on a piece of evidence
found near Shaniesha's body.
The receipt from
the liquor store.

It's dated January 5th,
the day before
Shaniesha's body is found.
went to a liquor store
that the receipt was from.
The manager provided
some video of a person
that was in there buying liquor.
Didn't know the gentleman,
but the liquor store
provided us with the actual
full credit card number.
And we went on to subpoena the
records for that credit card.
NARRATOR: The man is described
as Indian or Middle
Eastern, in his 30s.

Could this be
Shaniesha's killer?

Investigators are also trying
to locate possible witnesses
or suspects from among
Shaniesha's Facebook friends.
- There was teenagers, teenage
boys that we talked to.
In terms of volume,
it was a lot of work.

A lot of these kids didn't
realize that she was deceased.

sea of interviews,
detectives eventually
track down Jonathan Ho,
and he actually knows something
that could be important.

name is Jonathan Ho,
and I was a friend
of Shaniesha Forbes.

Detectives came to my place.
They started asking questions
because I know Shaniesha Forbes,
and she had just passed.
She had so much
genuine personality
that I clicked with her.

I just remember her telling me that
she was bullied a couple times.

course of the investigation,
we became aware that Shaniesha
Forbes was a victim of bullying,
in person and through social
media and the Internet.
- I told them she did tell me that
someone wanted to come beat her up
for no apparent reason.

Who decides ♪
Who holds the knife ♪
- Her classmates and people on
social media were mocking her
because she looked different.
She wore her hair different,
she wore her clothing different.
And for whatever reason,
this bothered certain people
and at some point they
were threatening her.
NARRATOR: Shaniesha's
family is aware
of the torment she endured.

And it was cursing her
out and threaten her.
They have knives,
they have sticks.

By arranging with the
school to pick her up

Before dismissal time
so nobody could really
jump her, hurt her.
And this was an everyday thing.
NARRATOR: But on the
day she went missing,
Shaniesha never did
make it to school.
Is it possible that the
bullying got so extreme
that it escalated to murder?
- When I found out
that Shaniesha died,
in all honesty, I
thought she was bullied
and someone actually
killed her off.

NARRATOR: Then Jonathan
provides police
with another piece
of the puzzle.
Something that takes
the investigation
in a whole new direction.

- I saw her a couple
days before she passed.

Shaniesha and I were
having a conversation,
and then
Shaniesha told me that she
thought she was pregnant.

Shaniesha's reaction was
that she was kinda scared.

She was nervous,
but she wanted to
keep the child.

NARRATOR: Does this
have anything to do
with Shaniesha's death?
There's one thing that could
help answer every question.
Shaniesha's phone records.

In a stunning revelation,
detectives learned that
14-year-old Shaniesha Forbes
believed she was pregnant.

With this new piece
of information,
Investigators check back
with the medical examiner.

Searching for a bloodline ♪
Bloodline, bloodline ♪

The medical examiner
was extremely thorough.
We knew that Shaniesha
was not pregnant.
That was determined
immediately at the autopsy.
NARRATOR: Still, if
Shaniesha thought
she was pregnant,
who was the father?
Bloodline, bloodline ♪
And what about the bullying?

Normile and Sanchez turn
their attention back
to Shaniesha's Facebook page
and to her classmates.
- Their explanation was they
were teenagers being teenagers.

It's easy to bully someone through
the Internet or over a phone.

Everyone just chimes in because
there's no ramifications to it.
So we were coming up
with nothing substantial
in terms of anyone interviewed raising
the hair on the back of your neck,
that, "You know what?
Something's wrong here."

NARRATOR: A week after
finding Shaniesha's body,
investigators receive
her phone records.

through the vast phone records
to try to establish a time
line when her phone stopped
and who she was speaking with.

focus on the morning
Shaniesha vanished.
Friday, January 4th.
KERRI-ANN: We found out that
when Shaniesha took the bus,
her phone came on
the cell phone towers
and it's giving you a time line
that she's headed towards Flatbush.
NARRATOR: Flatbush, Brooklyn
is in the opposite direction
of Shaniesha's school.
Where was she going?
eleven o'clock in the morning,
her phone stopped making
outgoing phone calls.
Texts were coming in and
calls were coming in.
But at that point, there
was no more calls going out.
So we knew somewhere around Friday
morning she was killed in Flatbush.
[line ringing]
NARRATOR: One of the
calls Shaniesha made
in the days before her
murder may be significant.
- There's a phone call
on her phone records
where you can see
she called a number
that was basically a
pregnancy testing place.
It was a medical office.
NARRATOR: The medical
office has no record
of Shaniesha having
an appointment,
but her call seems to confirm
that she at least suspected
she might be pregnant.

Normile and Sanchez also key in
on a number Shaniesha called
the morning she disappeared.

It's traced to a teenage boy
in the Crown Heights
section of Brooklyn.
So, they pay him a visit.

the morning of January 4th, 2013
he had stayed home
from school that day
with the intent of going
to meet her on a date.

NARRATOR: Is this the person
Shaniesha posted
about on Facebook?

did not hear from her.
And then when she finally
contacted him that morning,
he was like, "Oh, I thought
we were gonna get together,"
and she was giggling
about her answers.
And he felt like someone
else was in the background.
"I just had that feeling."
So he says, "Listen,
I'm done with this,"
and he hung up on her.

Kinda like maybe a
spurned boyfriend.
He deleted her from the phone
and deleted her from Facebook.

NARRATOR: The boy claims
they didn't have plans
to go to the movies that day,
but investigators still
need to figure out
where he was the morning
Shaniesha went missing.
- Of course, there's a potential
it could have been him.

NARRATOR: While they
run a background check,
detectives follow
up on another lead.
They finally get the
credit card information
for the liquor store receipt
found near Shaniesha's body.
That's how they're able
to identify the man
in the grainy
surveillance video.
gentleman who had that receipt
was with some friends
prior in the day.
And they were looking to hang
out and drink and smoke weed.

and his friends
ended up at Gerritsen Beach.
were just sitting in the car
and the receipt fell out of
the car and they had left.

So there is no
indications at that point
that they were involved in this,
although they weren't ruled out.

NARRATOR: What about
the teenage boy
from Crown Heights?
up on stuff in his life,
his building had
surveillance cameras
and we were able
to rule him out.
But it gave us now the feeling
that when he spoke to her,
she was with someone.
There's the big question mark.
Who was she with that morning?

Far from home ♪
question with no answer.
Despite their efforts,
there appears to be little
movement in the investigation.
There's no cause of death.
No prime suspect.
- [voice breaking] It was
just weeks passing by,
weeks passing by
and still nothing.
Like everyone asking you,
"Do y'all know anything?
Do you know anything?"
And it's like, "No."

you deal with the family,
sometimes they become
unhappy with you because
there's stuff you don't
want them to know,
out of decency.
And there's a possibility
it could be a family member,
so you hold a lot of stuff back.
KERRI-ANN: He said, "There
is things that's happening
"I cannot tell you,
"but know that we
are on top of it.
Like, I just can't tell you."
And like I'm now faced in a position
where I have to trust law enforcement,
that time and time again
has shown up historically
to have disappointed the
African-American community.

NARRATOR: Finally, on May 2nd,
four months after the murder,
the medical examiner comes
forward with the news
everyone is waiting
for and dreading.
- It took some time to come
to an official homicide ruling
by the King's County
Medical Examiner's Office.

Unlike TV, where you'll see
something will happen within a day,
toxicology has to be done.
There was a lot of
testing done on Shaniesha
to come to the final determination
of the cause of death,
which, in his case was
homicidal asphyxia.

When someone in
an act of violence
manually smothers or
strangles someone.

latest discovery
is shocking to
the teen's family.
They wanna know who could be so cruel
to suffocate a 14-year-old girl?

someone, that's personal.
It takes a lot of strength and
a lot of disregard for a human
to be able to hold something over
someone's face till they die.

Rage, yes.
A lot of rage with that.

- When we found out that
Shaniesha was suffocated,
we're like, "It's
someone that knows her."

subpoenaed dozens of numbers
for this investigation.

We would take those numbers and
we'd go through police reports,
any prior contacts,
Internet databases, to
try to put names to faces.

What led us to the suspect at
first was the phone records.

The phone that he was using
was in contact with
Shaniesha multiple times
and they all stopped on
the morning of January 4th.

NARRATOR: Then, ten days
after the medical examiner
releases her report,
Shaniesha's family members
receive a cryptic message
from lead investigator Sanchez.

- He said, "If you can leave work,
leave now and head to the house,
I'm gonna meet you guys there."

NARRATOR: What they're
about to learn

Is horrific.

More than four months after
the body of Shaniesha Forbes
washed up on a Brooklyn beach,
NYPD detectives finally
have news for her family,
and the news is shocking.
Healthy hearts
hit the grounds ♪
KERRI-ANN: Sanchez met us
there and he sat us down.
I never saw you till now ♪
He shared, "We found him."

It was a lot to process.

I never saw you till now ♪

NARRATOR: The detectives
explain to the family
how they identified the suspect.

walked us through
the time line of events,
and one of the driving
factors was her cell phone.
NARRATOR: The cell phone
that Shaniesha treasured.
- We found that between
December 26th, 2012,
and January 4th, 2013,
Shaniesha Forbes had exchanged
numerous texts and calls
with a number which
was a MetroPCS phone.

KERRI-ANN: And she's
texting that number
constantly over and over again.
That number was the last number
to be in contact with Shaniesha.

100 and something text messages,
multiple phone calls.
And they all stopped on
the morning of January 4th.

Investigators suspect
the calls and texts stopped
because Shaniesha
was already dead.

- We were able to
determine from the records
that that phone was paid
for by a credit card.

That led us to out in Long
Island further out east
to the sister of a gentleman
identified as Christian Ferdinand.

She said that she paid his phone
bill and that he was a student
and kind of a work school
program up in Maine.

We said, "Listen, could you
have him give us a call,
we'd like to speak to
him about this girl."
And she said, "No problem."

He never called us back.

So we began to research
Christian Ferdinand.
[line rings]
quickly revealed
that Christian Ferdinand
has roots in the Flatbush area.
- Christian Ferdinand went to the
same high school that I went to
and I had no idea he had any
connection with my sister.

NARRATOR: Normile asks the
state troopers in Maine
to obtain attendance records
from Christian's work program.
discovered that he had been away
from the facility from
December 21st to January 8th
due to Christmas break,
which put him perfectly within
the time frame for the murder.

NARRATOR: Detectives
can also prove
Shaniesha and Ferdinand were
in the same neighborhood
the morning she was killed.
- We had served the phone
providers with a court order,
giving us cell site locations.
So basically, as you're
moving with your phone,
all those cell towers you
see in every neighborhood,
your phone's bouncing
from tower to tower.

The further you go, it's gonna
switch to the next tower.

KERRI-ANN: That last ping
and the cell phone tower
that it pinged off of was

In Flatbush.

- So we were able actually to
follow Shaniesha Forbes' phone
to the area

Of where we learned Christian
Ferdinand was staying
and we were able to place
his phone there, too.

was his cousin.
That was her house in Flatbush,
where he would stay whenever
he would come to Brooklyn.
NARRATOR: Ferdinand's
cousin's house
is just two and a half miles
from where Shaniesha's
body was found.

With this intel, on May 13th,
detectives travel
to Northern Maine
to question Ferdinand.

we first saw Christian,
he was, just kinda
seemed easygoing.

Kinda lanky,
laid back, calm,
didn't get nervous
when he first saw us.
Detective Sanchez asked if
he was hungry or thirsty.

He asked for something to drink.

Detective Sanchez bought
him a bottle of Coke

And we told him that we were there
investigating a missing persons case.

And we mentioned
Shaniesha Forbes.
He said he didn't
know who that was.

NARRATOR: They show
Ferdinand a memorial card
from Shaniesha's funeral
featuring her photo.
he goes, "Oh, I know her.
"Yeah, I met her once or twice,
but I didn't really
know her like that."

At that point, we knew
based on the phone records
that not to be true.
Now we knew this was gonna
become an interrogation.
So we read him
his Miranda rights
and he agreed to
speak with us further.

NARRATOR: Ferdinand
claims that he met up
with Shaniesha once or
twice in a Brooklyn park.

But that's all.

- And then we started to go at him
with some of the facts that we had.
"Well, did you ever
call her?" "No."
"Well, that's not true.
"You called her a bunch of times.
You texted her a bunch of times.

"I could put your phones
within a block of each other,
and then her phone stops."

And he just kinda put
his head down and

He looked at Detective Sanchez
and myself and he says,
"You know what?

"You guys have been
pretty good to me.
You bought me a soda, so I'm
gonna tell you what happened."

And then he started to
go into what happened
to Shaniesha Forbes and
what led to her death.

- Christian Ferdinand
described exactly what he did.

It's disgusting.

NARRATOR: For the family of
14-year-old Shaniesha Forbes,
there is some measure of relief
knowing the police have
a suspect in her murder.

But the details of how and why
20-year-old Christian Ferdinand
took Shaniesha's life

They're devastating.

confession, Ferdinand stated,
"Yeah, I knew her and I
met her over social media,"
and they had a
sexual relationship.

KERRI-ANN: We heard
in his confession
that Shaniesha told
him she was 16.
You met her on Facebook.
Her Facebook has her
accurate birthday.

You knew she was 14. You
knew she was a child.
And even if you thought
otherwise, it's still nasty.

[voice breaking] It is rape.
It is rape.
It's rape.

[clicks tongue]

Ferdinand claimed
that on January 4th, 2013,
he met Shaniesha at his
cousin's house in Brooklyn,
where the two apparently
got into an altercation.
Shaniesha believed she
was pregnant and told him,
"You're gonna be the dad
and we're gonna kinda
live happily ever after."
And he told her, "No,
get rid of that shit."
That's how he referred to it.
"Get rid of that shit."
And she said, "No, I'm
not gonna get rid of it."

He became enraged
and he took one of the
pillows from the couch

And he placed it over her head
and he began to smother her

Till she stopped moving.

- That's why he did it.
Because he didn't want a child.

- We did tell him that
she wasn't pregnant.
And he goes, "Oh, well,
she told me she was."

He made the decision to
put her in a suitcase.

He called a cab.
He had the cab take him down
to the end of Gerritsen Beach.

He had dragged her
into the beach.

He used body spray and a lighter
as a makeshift torch to burn her
to get rid of any potential DNA.

He's an animal.

KERRI-ANN: He was hoping,
based off his confession

Placing her in the ocean,
that she would drift off.

And she came back.
You may think you're strong ♪
Body burned, naked.
Her mom's Ugg boots.
You won't know the truth ♪
Until the end ♪
Go ♪

NARRATOR: Ferdinand writes out
his confession in longhand.
Then he's arrested for the
murder of Shaniesha Forbes.

enforcement sources say
Ferdinand confessed
to a brutal crime.
- You feel grateful.
You're just glad that someone
is going to be held responsible
for this horrible act.
- Put him away for life.
[voice breaking] That's
That's what I think he deserves.
He did it to my daughter,
but he also did it to me.
It's like you take a part of me.

he goes on trial,
Ferdinand is housed in New
York's Rikers Island jail.

Authorities soon learn
that Christian Ferdinand lied about
one key detail in his confession.

He did not completely act alone.

[horn blowing]
became aware of a gentleman
that provided information
from Rikers Island,
Christian's cell mate.
He told me that Christian
and his friend Luis,
he called Luis, and Luis'
family has a restaurant,
and they have a van
for the restaurant.
And Luis helped them
get rid of the body.

We were able to identify Luis
as Luis Manon.

Investigators bring in
the 23-year-old for questioning.
denied assisting the killer

But we told him the experts
matched his fingerprints
to the garbage bags
used to cover Forbes.

Luis then informed us that, yes,
Christian asked if he could
help him with the van,
and then Christian Ferdinand
elaborated how he had killed someone.

- They put her in
a garbage bag first
and then they fold her
up in the suitcase

And they bring her
down the stairs.

Luis, you are dragging
her down steps.

Every single step

You could have said

"No, I will not
help you do this."

then drove the van
to Gerritsen Beach

Where he and Ferdinand
burned the body

And tossed it in the tide.

KERRI-ANN: Let's be clear.
They are both monsters.

You have one that
committed the murder,
and then you had one that helped
dispose of Shaniesha's body.

That's, for us, that's
killing her twice.

He's a monster as well.

NARRATOR: Luis Manon
makes a plea deal
in exchange for his testimony.

In November of 2014,
nearly two years after
Shaniesha's death,
Christian Ferdinand
goes on trial.
- Ferdinand's attorney
told the judge today
that he didn't do it, but again,
prosecutors say he confessed.

NARRATOR: It takes
the jury only one hour
to find Ferdinand guilty
of second-degree murder
and tampering with evidence.
He's sentenced to 29
years to life in prison
and will be eligible
for parole in 2039.
- Christian Ferdinand deserved
more time than what he got.

- He should never be able to
walk the streets ever again.

NARRATOR: Because he
testified against Ferdinand,
Luis Manon receives a
sentence of three months.
KERRI-ANN: Three months?
That's insane.
That's insane.
That's summer school.

hard pill to swallow
for family and friends.
But had it not been for
Shaniesha's cell phone,
her murder may have
never been solved.

KERRI-ANN: God works
in mysterious ways.

Shaniesha wanted
that iPhone so badly,
and it was ultimately the thing
that allowed us to find out
how she was murdered.

NARRATOR: And it was
what helped detectives
close a hard case.

and Detective Sanchez
received an award for the work
we put into Shaniesha
Forbes' investigation.

[voice breaking] It gives your
kids a chance to see, uh

It lets them see why you
weren't home all the time.

You gotta give me a minute.

You can't save the world.
But I did my best to
keep my little part safe.

Sing a song before the weary ♪
SHAY: What I miss most
is her personality.
She was really funny,
but she was also really sweet.

KERRI-ANN: Shaniesha
mattered, her body mattered,
she mattered to so
many in the community.
So they never walk alone ♪
SANDRA: I wanted to remember
her as a good person.
A loving sister
and daughter and granddaughter.
I miss her beautiful smile.

Sing a song for the helpless ♪
So that they ♪
May walk in the night ♪

I don't know where
my head is lately ♪
Have I lost my mind? ♪

But I know that
I have a secret ♪
And it's only mine ♪

And the only way to find me ♪
Is to go beneath the lies ♪

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