HUNTS POINT — The death of 15-year-old Destiny Sanchez, who was found bruised and unconscious in a Bronx building's entryway, was ruled to be a homicide Saturday.
Police arrested and charged the girl's step-uncle, Luis Vega, 34, with endangerment of the welfare of a child after he allegedly got her drunk the night before she was found, sources said.
The man had not been charged with any other crimes, but was likely to be charged in the girl's murder, sources said Sunday.
Destiny was found inside 640 Barretto St. shortly after 8 a.m. Friday morning, by two relatives who live in the building between Spofford and Randall avenues. Vega, 34, the brother of Destiny's stepmom, was charged with watching her, sources said.
An autopsy determined her death to be a homicide after it was discovered that the girl, who cops said was just days from her 16th birthday, had been smothered and strangled, the Medical Examiner's spokesperson said.
Relatives said Destiny had been visiting family who lived in the building on Thursday. Her aunt lived on the third floor of the building, neighbors said. Vega lives in the same building as the girl lived, on Spofford Avenue police said.
Family members, one of whom was identified as Destiny's father, declined to speak to DNAinfo.com New York outside the girl's Spofford Avenue home on Saturday.
Meanwhile, neighbors, friends, and family set out a shrine in the girl's memory in front of the Barretto Street building where she was found, and gathered, lamenting the sudden loss of such a bright girl.
"It's crazy. How could anyone do something like this. I just can't believe it," said Rafael Sanchez, 45, a family friend whose son goes to school with Destiny's brother.
Jennifer Lopez, 29, who said she was a friend of Destiny's, mourned the girl over the candle-filled memorial. "It's a tragedy. Parents are not supposed to bury their kids.
"I'm always going to miss her. I hope she rests in peace."
Another neighbor said the girl's mother was still reeling.
"I spoke to her mom yesterday and she's still in shock, but she's being very strong," said Vivian Negron, who lives nearby.
Police had not charged the uncle with any other crimes related to Destiny's death, but reapproached Vega for questioning Saturday afternoon, sources said.
Vega is currently hospitalized for a previous health condition, police said, but is in police custody.