What happens to crime victim families after the news crews and the cops leave?
This article first appeared in The Chiseler. It was picked up by NY1. The victim forwarded a request from the Bronx DA to pull the story because it put the family in further danger of retaliation. The family has now relocated.
By Tony Sokol
Christine Perdikakis has to move out of the Bronx and she has to do it fast. Her 14-year-old son, Justin “Puchi” Fuentes, was stabbed in the chest while attending a birthday party at about 3:15 a.m. on September 28, 2014 on Barnes Avenue near Pelham Parkway. Justin was taken to Jacobi Medical Center, but was pronounced dead on arrival.
Justin’s single mother and her family have been under siege since the incident. They are veritable prisoners of the gangs who control the Wakefield neighborhood where they live. Christine Perdikakis spoke exclusively to the Chiseler about her family’s ordeal in the aftermath of the attack.
Two 18-year-olds also suffered chest wounds, and a 17-year-old was stabbed in the shoulder at the party. One of the survivors suffered a ruptured spleen and required “multiple dozens” of stitches. Detectives investigating the stabbings at the time said neither the victims nor the witnesses would cooperate. They were afraid of gang retaliation.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack, the NYPD put out an APB for a black male in his late teens or early 20s who goes by the name “Shaq,” last seen wearing blue jeans and a light blue do-rag. Police warned he was probably armed with a knife.
On December 16, 2014, police arrested Ken Goodwin, 18, also known as Shakil Martin, as a suspect in Justin’s murder. Goodwin had eight prior arrests, according to the Daily News. Goodwin was charged with murder, criminal possession of a weapon and three counts of assault.
The incident received national attention in the press at the time, but once the story seemed over, Perdikakis’ family was on their own.
Justin “Puchi” Fuentes (November 13, 1999 – September 28, 2014) was interred by Eternity Funeral Services, LLC, in the Bronx. His mother still owes over $3,100 for the funeral expenses. Heaven, Christine’s 16-year-old daughter is now pregnant. She is due in September, near the anniversary of her brother’s death. Christine wants to move her two remaining children and future granddaughter to a safer location. Since the death of Justin, who was a student at Public School 754, the J.M. Rapport School for Career Development, Perdikakis says her neighborhood is now unsafe.
“My family has been threatened numerous times,” Perdikakis said. “Recently my six-month pregnant daughter was attacked on the bus on the way to school. She has had to be removed from school. I am scared to send my kids to the store.”
It’s not just Perdidakis’ immediate family who are in danger.
“My 17-year-old niece has been followed and threatened with a box cutter on her way home from school,” she explained. “Anyone related or even friendly with my son Justin is in danger.”
“This was my daughter’s 16th birthday get together where this happened. All Justin was doing was trying to get his sister out and safely home,” she said.
“We live place to place. I just want to find a stable home for my children,” she added.
Cheryl Thill, an assistant district attorney at the Bronx County District Attorney Office “has tried to help as much as she can. They honestly could care less about my son or family. My world revolves around my children. I’m lost without my son. I don’t know how much more I can take this,” she said.
Perdikakis’ friends started a GoFundMe campaign (http://www.gofundme.com/helpfor) called “Family must move & needs help ASAP” to help get her two remaining children away from the barrage.
“You don’t know her, but she could be your, sister your niece, your cousin, any mother. She is a mother who is suffering under a blow too hard to even comprehend, the tragic and senseless violent act that took her youngest son’s life,” reads the site.
The incident rendered Perdikakis depressed and terrified for her remaining children and in desperate need to take them to a new place to start over. Perdikakis told the Chiseler she was like a living zombie, going to work and going almost straight to bed when she got home. Indeed, when we first called, she was afraid to answer the phone.
“This family just needs a safe place to mend and start over. She feels afraid now for her other children and coming grandbaby in this place and needs funds to move out of the area ASAP for the safekeeping of herself and that of her two surviving children,” reads the GuFundMe appeal.
The family has been living with friends since the tragedy. They cannot return to their home.