Update: In a statement sent to Refinery29, Tessa Majors' family expressed their heartbreak over this tragedy. "We lost a very special, very talented, and very well-loved young woman. Tess shone bright in this world, and our hearts will never be the same."
This story was originally published on December 12, 2019.
A December evening walk through Manhattan’s Morningside Park on a particularly cold Wednesday ended in tragedy when 18-year-old Barnard College student Tessa Majors was approached by a group of individuals demanding her belongings. According to the New York Police Department, the encounter ended with a tragic and fatal stabbing.
Officers found the Barnard freshman unconscious with multiple stab wounds, according to an NYPD statement sent to Refinery29. After responding to a report of an unconscious woman near West 116th and Morningside Drive, police called EMS to transport her to Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Majors was a first-year student at Barnard College and a budding musician who played in two bands — she played her first New York City gig in October. “Tessa was just beginning her journey at Barnard and in life,” read a statement that was sent campus-wide by Barnard’s president Sian Leah Beilock. “We mourn this devastating murder of an extraordinary young woman and member of our community.” Barnard College encouraged students affected by the tragedy to seek out the college’s counseling services.
Although Morningside Park has a history of violence, police and local initiatives have taken strong safety measures to try and dispel fear surrounding this area, particularly for students at Columbia and Barnard. Earlier this Spring, a string of violent muggings targeted women walking through Morningside Park. In one incident, the victim was treated for a traumatic brain injury after an attack that took place in broad daylight.
Still, with Majors' sudden death, her family and students mourn the loss and are weary of making their way back to the park and its surrounding area.
“I guess being from a smaller town she was too naive to think about walking alone in New York City,” Martha Burton, the teen’s grandmother told the NY Daily News.
Majors’ last Instagram post has become a memorial to her life. One person, @lydiarpickering, wrote: “Tess, i have known you since as long as i can remember. you were one of my biggest role models and i always wanted to be like you.” Another comment simply reads, “Smh RIP, I hate my city sometimes.”
Although no arrests have been made thus far, police are investigating the incident and believe at least two to three individuals are involved. NYPD are looking into a known robbery suspect in the area who matches the description given by a witness, according to an ABC News report.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.