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Family Mourns 24-Year-Old Woman Whose Body Was Found in Queens Marsh

By  Trevor Kapp Jesse Lent Murray Weiss and James Fanelli | February 16, 2013 7:47pm | Updated on February 18, 2013 5:04pm

BREEZY POINT — The devastated family of a missing Queens college student whose body was found bound and floating in Rockaways marshland says her possessive boyfriend played a role in her death.

Marisha Cheong, 24, was wearing pajamas with her hands and legs tied when she was discovered Saturday morning in Breezy Point, according to police and family. Cops have not made any arrests but Cheong's live-in boyfriend, L.J. Balkaran, is a person of interest in her disappearance, police sources said.

"I want him to tell me what he did, how she ended up on the beach. He knows. He has to know," Cheong's sobbing mother, Bibi Ali, said Monday at her Long Island home.

Cheong, a Long Island University student studying business administration, vanished on the morning of Dec. 19. She was last spotted alive by video camera, which showed her entering her Jamaica, Queens, home, then leaving with another person 5 minutes later, police sources said.

Ali said Balkaran controlled her daughter and kept the passwords to her iPhone and iPad.

"He's obsessive over her. He's very obsessive," said Ali.

"If they were watching a movie and saw any person and said, 'Hey, that guy's cute,' he would get angry and go upstairs," Ali said.

Cheong's cousin, Andrey Azeez, said Balkaran would make his cousins drive her to school and he would pick her up.

"She wasn't allowed to go by herself. He was just a little too possessive," Azeez said.

Cops interviewed Balkaran — a delivery man and an aspiring Bollywood film director — when Cheong disappeared, police sources said. They grilled him again Monday after her body surfaced. 

He told investigators he was making a delivery when she went missing, according to police sources. Cops confirmed his whereabouts and let him go, but they have not ruled him out, a police source said.  

Speaking on Monday at the home he shared with Cheong, a somber Balkaran told DNAinfo.com New York that he's not responsible for her disappearance, and can't believe she's gone.

"She was the sweetest person you'd ever meet," he said. "She would not harm a soul. I still can't believe it. I want to find who did this. We will find who did this."

He also praised investigators' work in the case.

"They've been nothing but kind. I respect what they're doing," Balkaran said.

The wannabe director said Cheong left their 145th Street home on the morning of Dec. 19. During the morning, he said he and she were having an argument over text messages, but her responses didn't seem right.

"The texts were suspicious," he said. "They didn't sound like her — just the wording. Little things like that. She would normally call me 'Babe' or 'Stinky Booboo.' She used another name.''

Balkaran knew something was wrong when he didn't get a phone call from her by noon.

 Marisha Cheong went missing in December. Her body washed up on a Queens beach over the weekend.
Marisha Cheong went missing in December. Her body washed up on a Queens beach over the weekend.
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New York State Missing Persons

"I didn't know what was going on. I thought she might've been upset," he said.

Balkaran said he and Cheong, a 5-foot-7 brunette, planned to marry. He wanted to pop the question around New Year's.

"I'm just trying to be as strong as I can at this moment," he said. "I'm still thinking she's gonna come through that door."

But Cheong's family, who have been desperately searching for her since her disappearance, say they have barely heard from Balkaran since Cheong vanished.

The family posted a Facebook page asking for the public's help and including an NYPD missing person poster offering a $5,000 reward with information leading to her whereabouts.

"She didn't deserve this," Ali said. "Who is so terrible in the mind to do something like this ... they treated my baby like she was nothing."