2 arrests in murder of young mother

Family didn't buy man's story in fatal Bronx shooting
April 15, 2008 7:23:18 PM PDT
A Massachusetts man and his cousin have been arrested on charges they conspired to kill the man's fiancee and make it look like a fatal mugging, authorities said Tuesday.Police say 36-year-old Carlos Cruz and his cousin, 25-year-old Devon Miller, were arrested following hours of grilling by detectives in the 43rd Precinct in the Bronx. They will both be charged with the murder of 18-year-old Chelsea Marie Frazier, who was fatally shot in the couple's Toyota.

The alleged murder-for-hire scheme unfolded at about 4 p.m. Sunday in the Bronx, when a man armed with a handgun approached Cruz's car and shot Frazier two times in the torso. Witness said they saw Cruz chase the assailant, who turned and shot him in the leg.

Frazier was pronounced dead at Jacobi Medical Center. The couple's 14-month-old son, Alijah, was in the backseat. He was not harmed.

Police said Cruz told them that Frazier, who was driving, got lost and pulled over in a secluded area as the baby, named Alijah, was fussing in the back seat. He said the shooting occurred after the gunman suddenly appeared and demanded his chain and money.

An investigation revealed that the purported mugger actually was Miller, resulting in the two arrests, police said.

While a witness corroborated parts of Cruz's story, Frazier's family believed the killing was part of an ongoing custody battle and suspected Cruz was somehow to blame in the murder.

"It just doesn't ring right," grandmother Shirley Manthorne said. "There's been so many robberies. This hasn't happened, to this extent. With a baby in the backseat?"

Cruz reportedly told investigators he and Frazier, who lived together in Southbridge, Mass., came to New York to visit his family and shop at an Old Navy in White Plains.