DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A Florida convict was arrested Thursday for the 2004 murder of a Bushwick teenager whose naked and beaten body was found stuffed into laundry bags and left in a back alley two blocks from where she lived, according to prosecutors.
Kwauhuru Govan, 38, was indicted on felony charges of second-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping in Brooklyn Supreme Court Thursday for the slaying of Sharabia Thomas, 17.
Investigators had attempted to identify the killer's DNA in 2004 by testing swabs from a sexual assault kit, but they didn't try testing the victim's fingernails until this summer when NYPD's Cold Case Squad and the District Attorneys Forensic Science Unit started probing the case again, prosecutors said.
Govan had just finished a two-year stint in Florida prison for an armed robbery conviction and his DNA was entered into the FBI's National DNA database as part of that arrest in 2014, according to prosecutors and Florida correction records.
DNA found on Thomas' fingernails matched Govan's, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors would not respond to inquiries about why they didn't test the fingernails until this year.
“Sharabia bravely fought for her life when she was attacked and the evidence that helped to find her alleged killer was discovered under her fingernails," Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said in a statement.
"It is my hope that solving this terrible crime will offer a small measure of comfort to Sharabia’s family, who suffered such an unspeakable loss," he said.
Govan's lawyer Fred Spiegel didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Feb. 11 of 2004, Sharabia didn't show up to school. Her family had last seen her that morning as her siblings got ready to go to school, prosecutors said.
Later that afternoon, Sharabia's body was found inside two laundry bags in an alleyway near 130 Palmetto St., prosecutors said.
She'd been badly beaten on her head, face and body, and there were marks on her wrists and ankles from being tied up, prosecutors said. The medical examiner's office later determined she'd died from being choked, and found no evidence of sexual assault.
At the time Govan lived two blocks away on Gates Avenue, though he claimed he didn't know the victim, prosecutors said.
Govan is being held without bail and faces more than 25 years in prison if he's convicted, prosecutors said.