The suspect charged with the shocking murder and sick sexual abuse of a beloved 92-year-old Queens woman says he loves his late grandmother too much to ever hurt an old woman, according to a report in the New York Daily News.
“I’m crying about this too,” Reeaz Khan, 21, was quoted as saying during an exclusive interview with the Daily News on Rikers Island, where he is being held without bail after being caught on video allegedly initiating the attack.
“I had a grandma that I took care of,” he said, sobbing throughout his hour-long account of what transpired. “I’d wipe her eyes, carry her, and take her to doctor’s appointments. I would never hurt an elderly woman.”
According to the NY Daily News, Khan said he had gone to a hookah lounge to meet up with his cousins but was walking home disappointed after not finding them there when he came upon the victim, Maria Fuertes, already on the ground, “kicking her legs and shaking her arms around.”
“As I walked down the sidewalk I saw someone, a lady on the floor to the side of me,” Khan said. “I should have kept walking and just not helped but it’s in my heart to help.”
But prosecutors say he was caught on surveillance video approaching Maria Fuertes from behind while she was still standing, checking a pile of garbage bags for returnable empties on 127th St. in South Richmond Hill just after midnight Jan. 6.
The video shows them then falling to the ground together, disappearing from view behind a car for four sickening minutes just around the corner from the victim’s home.
Then Khan, a day labourer who lives less than a mile from the crime scene, is seen running off alone.
“I got scared and so I tried to grab her and push her up but she hit me with her arms and I fell back,” Khan claimed improbably Sunday. “I was so scared I didn’t know what to do… I just ran home and left.”
He said his phone was dead and couldn’t call the cops, the NY Daily News reported.
Fuertes died at Jamaica Hospital with a fracture spine, broken ribs, internal haemorrhaging and tears in her vagina, according to court papers.
“I should have called police when I got back home but I was scared,” Khan told The News. “It’s impossible for my DNA to be inside her because I never touched her like that.”
“Why would I touch a 92 year old woman?” he added. “I have a girlfriend and have had sex with other women.”
According to the NY Daily News, the victim’s two sons, busy planning her funeral Sunday, didn’t buy his claim for a minute.
“Honestly he better not act like he don’t know what he did. He killed her, he killed my mother,” said Hugo Fuertes, 69. “Now he’s scared because he knows what’s coming, he knows what’s waiting for him.”
“He knows what he did and the community is angry,” added the victim’s younger son, Ray Fuertes, 52. “I bet he just didn’t know there were cameras,” they were quoted by the NY Daily News as saying.
After cops released surveillance video of the suspect and asked the public’s help identifying him, Khan’s own brother called the cops Friday and ratted him out.
Prosecutors say he gave conflicting accounts of what happened to detectives once he was taken into custody, at one point bizarrely claiming he fell down, his belt buckle broke and “his pants fell down and his penis fell near her vagina but he did not have intercourse with her,” according to the criminal complaint against him.
Khan later told officials he did lift her skirt up and tried to put his penis inside of her and “did not know what came over him,” according to the complaint.
In jail Sunday, he tried to recast that comment.
“I didn’t mean I raped her,” he claimed. “I meant when I was with her I don’t know what came over me and I ran.’
Fuertes was a beloved neighbourhood fixture known to take late night walks to collect empty cans and bottles. Locals often called her “cat lady” out of affection because she housed seven cats and would put food out every day for the local strays.
Khan, who moved to New York from Guyana with his family, had been flopping between friends’ homes since November when he was arrested for jabbing his dad in the chest and arm with a broken ceramic mug. He was only recently allowed to return to his family’s home and is due back in court Jan. 23 to face assault charges in that case.
He has visible cut marks on his arms Sunday from previous suicide attempts and said his dad was an alcoholic and had attacked him first.
He told The News his girlfriend was coming to New York soon to raise a family with him.
But on Friday, Khan’s dad declined to defend his son to The News.
“You make your kids, but you don’t make their minds,” father Afraz Khan said. “We’re very sorry for what happened. Our sympathies go out to that woman’s family.”
Reeaz Khan expressed his own regrets Sunday, the NY Daily News reported.