Could a New York City cold case be solved by a kidnapping 3000 miles away?
05/09/2016 12:05 pm PDT
In a Crime Watch Daily exclusive, Mewanah 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.
Has one of New York's most infamous cold cases finally been cracked? Crime Watch Daily has breaking new details on the story that started in Brooklyn and has now ended up in the island paradise of Saint Vincent.
Chanel's murder nearly 10 years ago made national news and prompted the Reverend Al Sharpton to turn crime-fighter.
"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 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. 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 a friend.
"A young man which I knew very well. He came to the house many times," said Lucita Petro, Chanel's mother.
Chanel knew the boy 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 the guy, asking Where is Chanel?
"He told me they were supposed to meet up at Applebee's, she never showed up. He hit her up and she never called back," said Ashterman.
Cops initially listed Chanel as a runaway. The lead detective on the case told Pix11's Mary Murphy 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.
The NYPD retraced Chanel's last steps and asked the family, Who was that that friend who was meeting Chanel, the young man she met at church?
They said his name is Veron Primus.
The NYPD reportedly called Primus a person of interest because he was apparently the last person to see Chanel alive. But they never linked him 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 America. 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.
In this Crime Watch Daily exclusive, Mewanah 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 said.
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 Veron 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. The punishment, according to Hadaway: A grave.
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 then Hadaway is stunned. She says Primus forced her to give a fake name to the cops.
"When he came in to get me he told me that 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 tells cops that she's not "Kimberly," it's Mewanah, and she's being held captive.
Hadaway calls the caretaker her "Insulin Angel." We're hiding her face for her protection.
Finally Mewanah Hadaway is free and her long nightmare is over.
Police arrested Veron Primus on a charge of kidnapping. While searching his place, cops find something else.
Unwittingly, Hadaway's terrifying ordeal might help police solve two murders in two vastly different 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's family is stunned. They say she never mentioned Primus.
Greaves's 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.
Today, Veron Primus is in the local jail, charged with the murder of Sharleen Greaves.
Sharleen's mother, Inether Bailey-Holder was at Primus's first court appearance.
St. Vincent law doesn't require Primus to enter a plea. And it doesn't require him to speak to police, but he voluntarily spoke to a couple of NYPD detectives who flew down to St. Vincent.
Primus talked with the NYPD detectives for about 45 minutes, according to Superintendent Jacobs. At that stage he asked for a lawyer, she said. Jacobs said they did ask Primus in-depth questions about Chanel Petro-Nixon's death.
The detectives also spoke with Mewanah Hadaway, mainly asking about Petro-Nixon, she said.
Veron Primus did talk to Hadaway, she said.
"He said he didn't kill her, but he knew who did," said Hadaway.
Law enforcement sources tell Pix11 Reporter Mary Murphy that two investigators from the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office went to St. Vincent recently and met with local prosecutors. Murphy says the D.A. is considering his options about trying to extradite primus to the U.S.
For now, Veron Primus faces trial in the Caribbean, where justice is swift.
Mewanah Hadaway was just hit with another devastating blow: Her mother died recently from bone cancer. At least she was able to be with her before she passed. Hadaway says she hopes her terrifying ordeal helps Chanel's mother finds peace.
"She would want me to fight for her to get her justice," said Lucita Petro. "I will never be complete but I still have hope that one day I will see my daughter."
Primus could face the death penalty if he is convicted of murder, in addition to the kidnap charges for allegedly holding Mewanah Hadaway captive. His next court hearing is coming up this summer, and Crime Watch Daily will bring you the very latest.