Men Wanted For Questioning in Murder of NYC Couple
July 29, 2022
BRONX, NYC—Police are looking to question two men about the savage slayings of a former college basketball player and his girlfriend, who were found riddled with bullets and burned beyond recognition in a car in the Bronx in May.
The NYPD stated on Thursday they are seeking 30-year-old Jahmel Sanders and 34-year-old Steven Santiago for questioning in the murders, which were tied to a gang war sparked by a stolen purse.
The series of retaliatory events and ultimate murders started when Nikki Huang complained to her gangster friend that a rival click mugged her Sunday, May 15, stealing her purse, according to The New York Post.
Nikki’s boyfriend, ex-college hoopster 22-year-old Jesse Parrilla—who was also shot dead and burned—was not part of the rival gang war between the Up the Hill and the Down the Hill gangs, but ended up getting killed because he spent time with Nikki.
“Right now it looks like he was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” a Manhattan cop told The Post. “He has no criminal record. It looks like he was just hanging out with Nikki.”
Parrilla’s mother, Michelle Morales, who owned the car that the pair was killed in, told The Post her son knew Huang since middle school.
The badly burnt bodies of the young couple were found in the charred car around 4:30 a.m. Monday, May 16, at the Split Rock Golf Course in the Bronx.
Detectives believe the tragic series of events started when 23-year-old Huang was robbed near a housing project on the Lower East Side.
Huang’s assailants were allegedly members of the Down the Hill gang. Instead of going to the police, Huang decided to tell her friends in the rival Up the Hill gang.
Steven SantiagoJahmel Sanders
According to police, the two gangs are not affiliated with any national gangs and have been locked in turf wars for years stretching as far off as San Francisco, New York, and Paterson, New Jersey.
Payback was immediate. At 11:18 p.m., a 39-year-old gang member of Down the Hill gang, Brandon Atkinson, was gunned down in Alphabet City, however, authorities don’t know if Atkinson actually robbed Huang. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries.
Less than an hour later, the Down the Hill gang shot two members of the Up the Hill gang on Pike Street. After that, members of the Down the Hill gang kidnapped Huang Sunday night while she was hanging out with Parrilla, according to The Post.
Down the Hill gang members held a gun to Huang’s head and forced her to betray her friend. They made her call him and get him to leave his house in Queens, so they could ambush him.
Huang’s friend, 27-year-old Maurice Sullivan was taking out his trash in Maspeth when a dark-colored vehicle rolled up around 2:20 a.m. and shot Sullivan in the left side of his face.
Detectives believe a short time after Huang called Sullivan, Down the Hill gang members took her and Parrilla to the Bronx golf course and executed them, and set the car on fire.
Huang was 23-years-old and worked at Wa Lung Kitchen on the Lower East Side owned by her mother, who also owns Nails by Nikki.