Tessa Majors was an 18-year-old talented freshman at Barnard College who was stabbed to death in a horrific sequence of events in Manhattan. A security guard found her, but it was too late.
She is the daughter of a novelist and writing professor and was a budding journalist who played in two bands. Barnard College is located at 3009 Broadway in New York City. Tessa was stabbed in the stomach very close to Columbia University.
“We lost a very special, very talented, and very well-loved young woman. Tess shone bright in this world, and our hearts will never be the same,” Tessa’s family said in a statement sent to Heavy.com.
According to PIX11, a 13-year-old teenager has now been charged with murder in connection to Tessa’s death, a 14-year-old suspect has been arrested and a third teen is being sought by police.
In what is now an extremely sad post, in May 2019, her dad, Inman Majors, wrote on his Facebook page, “18 years ago today my life got redefined in all the right ways when this little bundle of fun came into the world. Happy Birthday to Tessa Rane Majors, a fantastic young lady. I can’t wait to see what the next 18 years have in store.”
After her death, her brother, Maxwell, wrote on Instagram, “rest in peace to the best sister and friend someone could ask for. i love you tessa rane.”
Tessa was in the class of 2023 and is from Charlottesville, Virginia. The death has frightened local college students who walk the same path.
According to The New York Post, 13-year-old Zyairr Davis was arrested and charged with felony murder.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Tessa Was Stabbed After Being Robbed by a Group of Suspects, Police Say
According to the Columbia Spectator, police say “a group of suspects approached Majors and demanded her property” before one member of the group stabbed her “several times.” Police later said it was between 1 and 3.
A security guard made the 911 call at 5:36 p.m. on December 11, 2019 after finding Majors “unconscious with multiple stab wounds.”
ABC7 journalist CeFaan Kim wrote on Twitter, “18-year-old Barnard College student found stabbed to death was robbed by group of suspects. She managed to climb stairs wounded from Morningside Park, collapsed in front of school security booth, empty as guard made rounds. Found 30mins later. Too late.”
However, in a news conference, police said Tessa staggered to the street and was found there by the guard. Columbia University released a statement saying that the guards don’t do rounds and that the earlier account was inaccurate. Rather, there was a guard at the post when Tessa emerged wounded from the park.
According to ABC7’s story, “The booth was empty at the time as the guard was making his rounds. He found the woman there when he returned and called 911.” Again, the university now says that wasn’t the case and that the guard tried promptly to help Majors.
New York’s mayor called Tessa’s death a “senseless act of violence.” The NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins said on John Catsimatidis’ radio show “that [Majors] was in the park to buy marijuana.” That caused Mayor Bill DeBlasio to accuse Mullins of victim shaming Tessa, according to The New York Post.
2. Tessa’s Dad Is an Author & Writing Professor Who Gushed on Facebook About His Daughter, Who Interned at a Local Newspaper
Tessa’s dad is Inman Majors, who is a professor at James Madison University in Virginia and a novelist.
“Majors is a novelist originally from Knoxville, TN who is now a creative writing professor at James Madison University,” says a press release on Inman. “His novels include: ‘Swimming in the Sky,’ ‘Wonderdog,’ ‘The Millionaires,’ ‘Love’s Winning Plays,’ and the recently released ‘Penelope Lemon: Game On!’” Tessa’s mother’s name is Christy. She also has a younger brother. Her father wrote on Facebook that “she took (her brother) under her wings from the first day, and loved and supported and included in all the games she played.”
In 2016, he shared photos of Tessa and wrote, “You are truly one of a kind and the best daughter a father could hope for.”
Inman also wrote, “For my daughter’s senior internship she is working as a freelance reporter for the Augusta Free Press, an independent paper in Waynesboro VA. Here is her piece on attending a city council meeting.” You can read the article Tessa, who was also called Tess, wrote here. The May 2019 article was titled, “Local government matters: Civic engagement at Waynesboro City Council.”
Here’s an interview with Tessa about the internship and some of her stories, such as surveying the local music scene.
“I’m going to Barnard…I’m really excited about that,” she said in the podcast. She said she had no idea what major she wanted to declare.
“I’ve always loved writing,” she said. “I’ve been writing in various forms since I was a little kid. Journalism was a field that I never delved into before… but I thought it would be a really interesting experience.”
“I guess being from a smaller town she was too naive to think about walking alone in New York City,” said Martha Burton, Majors’ grandmother, to The New York Daily News. “She just shouldn’t have been there.”
3. Tessa Played Bass & Sang Back Up in a Band
Tessa’s dad wrote on Facebook that “Tess plays in two bands. This one, The Company, just dropped their first single on Spotify. Tess plays bass and sings back-up. Fans of 80s funk music might like this one.”
You can listen to the track here.
Eight weeks ago, she wrote on Instagram, “Safe to say the first NYC show went well ;)” A few weeks before that, she wrote, “Anyway, for those of you who’ve been seeing my posts, my band, Patient 0, has an album coming out tonight at midnight!! This is very exciting, and it’s basically a showcase of all my favorite songs I wrote in high school…There are also lots of people I’d like to thank for making this possible…It’ll be available on Spotify and Apple Music. Also, I would appreciate any streams, Instagram stories, and shoutouts from you all. Thank you ? #punk #newmusic #riotgrrrl.”
One of her bandmates posted a video of her playing and wrote, “This one was heartbreaking and just different. To my stage buddie, partner in crime, band mom, friend, and mentor, I love you. We hit it off the moment we met. At a time I felt as if giving up on my dreams was the only thing to do, you told me to stop whining and get to the love of it. I’ll never stop. WE will never stop. I got prom queen on repeat.”
The band member continued: “Tess I wish I could jam one more time with you. No bullsh*tting, no correcting, just jamming. To the Majors, the mrc family, patient zero, Harli and The House of Juniper, The goop, and my 337 boys, And all of the other amazing people whose hearts she touched, The way for us to honor her is to never quit. Never stop playing. From now on, no matter who’s on stage with me, Tess will be right next me jamming with me. Thank you Tess I’ll miss you forever. Whenever I hit the stage you’ll be in my mind. ❤️ everyone as hard as it is live life like she’s here with us. Because in spirit she will always be.”
4. Barnard College Called Tessa Majors an ‘Extraordinary Young Woman’ Who Experienced ‘Unthinkable Tragedy’
Barnard College President Sian Leah Beilock released and a statement.
“Dean Grinage and I have spoken to her parents and Tessa’s family is enroute to NYC,” she wrote.
“We are also in close touch with the New York Police Department as they conduct this on-going investigation and seek to identify the assailant in this horrible attack. Tessa was just beginning her journey at Barnard and in life. We mourn this devastating murder of an extraordinary young woman and member of our community. This is an unthinkable tragedy that has shaken us to our core. Please know that we are all grieving together and I am thinking of you as we process this awful news as a community.”
5. The Teenage Suspect is Accused of Confessing to the Slaying
According to CNN, the 13 year old suspect “was found with a knife and admitted being involved in the attempted robbery and stabbing.” The teen’s mentioning of other suspects led police to expand beyond that one teen, CNN reported. It’s not yet clear whether the boy will be charged as an adult.
According to CNN, the teen suspect was observed by police Thursday in the lobby of a building near the Manhattan neighborhood where the stabbing occurred one day earlier.” He matched clothes in a suspect description.
New York Post reports that a second teen was taken into custody but then released and a third boy, believed to have done the actual stabbing, remains at large.
There were some early leads in the murder.
ABC7 reported that Tessa’s uncharged phone was found on a sidewalk, and a woman’s hat and a “closed gravity knife” were found in the park. A suspect was reported to be wearing a green jacket and, ABC7 reported, police encountered a similarly clad robbery suspect earlier in the day, and they found a blood trail at a spot where he hangs out.
Daily News described that area as “Grant Houses on Amsterdam Ave.”
The green jacket wearing suspect turned out to be a 16-year-old.
However, police later said they questioned several people but no charges have resulted. Two teens were questioned and released.
It’s still being investigated whether that suspect is tied to Majors’ slaying, although he was taken into custody, but it’s not clear for what, Daily News reported, adding that there were other robberies by knife in the area recently.
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