By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
A grieving mother and community want answers and justice for young New York woman brutally murdered and whose body was dismembered
The mother of a young Black woman whose body parts were found sprawled across a Brooklyn, N.Y., park is still in shock over the chilling way her child was murdered. And, she is calling on the New York Police Department for more answers and to step up its effort to find a vicious murderer.
Brandy Odom’s killer cut off her limbs.
A woman walking her dog in early April found the 26-year-old’s head and torso in one area of Canarsie Park. Police found her arms and legs in other parts of the park.
“I want to find the person or persons who committed this brutal crime, and I just want the world to know that nobody deserves this, what happened to my daughter,” Nicole Odom told The Final Call in an exclusive phone interview on April 19. She believes her daughter may have known the killer, because she kept a close circle of friends. She had no boyfriend, Ms. Odom said.
“If you’ve seen something, know somebody who’s got anything to do with this, just come forward so justice can be served,” Ms. Odom asked.
The last time she saw her daughter was late March. They celebrated news of Brandy’s school safety job acceptance letter. “She thanked me. I loved her. And, that was the last time I seen her,” Ms. Odom said of her middle child who was so “bubbly.”
The ordeal has rocked their family and community, she said. Her children are her heart, Brandy in particular, because she was a premature baby. She almost lost her twice. Now her other two daughters, ages 28 and 21, are afraid to go outside, the mother said.
“She was independent for herself. It just seemed like whatever she accomplished, it just wasn’t enough. She always kept herself in school, always trying to get some type of certificate, degree. Everybody loved her,” Ms. Odom stated.
“For somebody to play God out there right now and take her from me has been devastating,” lamented Ms. Odom. She lost their father to an aneurism when Brandy was five years old.
The Seaview section of Canarsie is a beautiful community with tree lined blocks, synagogues, churches, schools and homes whose residents are mostly middle to upper middle class. Pastor Gil Monrose, director of the Faith Based and Clergy Initiative said that the community was shocked and overwhelmed by the crime. “We must keep the pressure on until there is justice for Brandy and whoever done this is caught and brought to justice,” said Pastor Monrose.
Funeral services for Brandy were scheduled for April 26 at Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn, 12 noon to 2 p.m. Viewing of the remains was scheduled for 10 a.m. to 12 noon.
According to the mother, Brandy lived in an apartment in Queens, N.Y., and had a 28-year-old roommate. The young woman reached out with condolences once through a FaceTime video call, but the family never heard from her again, Ms. Odom stated. “We asked her how she found out, because we hadn’t released the name yet, so how did she know to call and give condolences?”
According to Ms. Odom, when she said she’d like to retrieve her daughter’s things from the apartment, the roommate was really shaky, then hung up all of a sudden. The young woman didn’t tell them anything, such as the last time she saw Brandy, Ms. Odom stated.
“She was supposed to call back with direct instructions how to get there. She never called back. … All this happened while we were in the precinct. The cops witnessed this take place. They told us don’t try to find her. Don’t go near her,” Ms. Odom said. She said NYPD was supposed to go question the roommate, but she doesn’t know if they did because no one has told her anything.
She refuted reports that her daughter was reported missing, and said Brandy wasn’t the type to run away. “She wasn’t the type of kid that didn’t have love. She had all these things, but I just don’t understand why somebody would wanna do her like this,” Ms. Odom continued.
She has received some backlash for bluntly saying she does not feel the New York Police Dept. was doing enough, but stuck to her position.
“This is what you get paid for. Go out there and do your job. Because as far as I’m concerned, I don’t think y’all doing a good enough job, in my eyes,” Ms. Odom said.
Ms. Odom said she still hasn’t received any leads or pertinent information and investigators have not been in contact with her. She feels she received the run-around from the start, when she tried to identify her daughter’s body after hearing a news reporter say a dismembered body found in Canarsie Park had “Chocolate” tattooed above the breast.
“I’ve been told nothing. Every little bits and pieces that I’m hearing, I’m hearing it off the media. The cops have not came and told me nothing,” Ms. Odom said.
Phil Walzak, deputy commissioner for public information, told The Final Call in an email: “The NYPD is aggressively investigating this case and is fully committed to bringing the perpetrator of this awful crime to justice. This is the same commitment the NYPD brings in service to every New Yorker.”
The NYPD also told The Final Call that “upon arrival, responding officers discovered an unconscious and unresponsive female in a wooded area near a pathway. EMS also responded to the scene and pronounced her deceased. The Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death and the investigation is ongoing.” No update was available at Final Call press time.
The Final Call received the above statements, some verifications, and no response to some requests after calling and emailing the NYPD numerous times for facts in the case, updates, and requesting a phone interview, which has not been granted. A person in the NYPD’s press office said there was no press release, but that NYPD had been sending out information about the case to major news outlets.
Mr. Walzak’s reply came after this writer asked NYPD for a direct response to Ms. Odom’s concern about a lack of attention and her belief that the NYPD investigation has been sloppy.
“Everybody should be treated equal. Every case should be treated equal. I don’t think one case should deserve more attention than the other case. These are human beings out here that lost their life,” Ms. Odom said.
Brooklyn Borough president Eric Adams told The Final Call, a chief, a lieutenant and four detectives are working the case per information shared during an NYPD briefing. He feels NYPD isn’t releasing any information because of the sensitivity of the investigation. It takes a while before everything is flushed out, said the former police officer.
“We’re not going to allow this to go away and become a cold case,” Mr. Adams vowed. The police role is important to solving the case, but the community has a role in reporting what was seen, he added. Mr. Adams held an April 12 prayer vigil with the family and community. Brandy’s remains were found April 9.
Mr. Adams said his Brooklyn community is a long way from when it was having 2,000 homicides a year. In 2017, there were about 178 or 179 homicides, he said. “But each homicide is impactful, and so when you have one where the person’s body is dismembered and torn apart like that, it really escalates and makes the matter even more painful and horrific.
“It is very hurtful and is going to impact this community for a long time. I don’t think anyone will be able to walk past that location without reliving the trauma that happened.”
Brandy’s demise so struck him that Mr. Adams put up personal reward money for anyone with information leading to solving the case. NYPD is offering a $10,000 reward and Mr. Adams contributed another $1,000. “I have sisters, and it’s clear that the person who did this is an animal in behavior and an animal in thinking. So as long as this person remains on the street, none of our family members, particularly the women in our households, are safe, so it’s imperative that we bring this person to justice,” he said.
“To do this and dump her body as though she was an animal or something, really I found, it touched me in a real way. As a former police officer, I have responded to many crimes and some of them were more gruesome than others, but this is at the top of the list.”
The case brought to mind what happened to Chanel Petro-Nixon, he said. She was found in a garbage bag in the Crown Heights section of New York, according to Mr. Adams. The killer, who was found in the Caribbean Islands, went free for years until he killed again. “The mere fact that case was not solved immediately gave him an opportunity to kill again,” said Mr. Adams.
Abdul Hafeez Muhammad, Eastern Region Representative for the Nation of Islam and student minister of Muhammad Mosque No. 7 in New York, joined Ms. Odom, her family and Mr. Adams at the vigil.
It was important to join the borough president and bring the weight of his influence, on behalf of Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam in New York to the tragedy. The heinous killing was not given the kind of attention given when Karina Vetrano, a young White girl, was assaulted and murdered on the jogging trail in Howard Beach in August 2016.
At the vigil, Min. Muhammad spoke with the media and family, and asked for prayers for Brandy’s soul, for continued comfort for her mother, friends, family and all the young girls at the vigil.
“We even gave them a message, personally, away from the cameras, from Minister Farrakhan about the value of the woman, and how they must protect themselves and screen people that come into your lives today,” Min. Muhammad said. “This is not a time like any other time. These are very strange times for women, and women must be protected and elevated.”
The Nation of Islam and Mr. Adams called on NYPD to go after solving the case. “And what we could see now is that they are doing that. They said that they will not rest until the killer or killers are brought to justice, so we appreciate that kind of spirit. But we wanted to bring our presence to make sure that that was going to happen,” Min. Muhammad continued. That same request was made to city and state officials, he added.
With a lack of national media attention about the case, Min. Muhammad, like many, caught wind of the killing on social media.
Nayaba Arinde, an activist and editor of the Amsterdam News, said her suspicions arose due to the heinous and complicated nature of what happened to Brandy, dismembering the body and how it was disposed of. That’s not something that typically happens in the Black community, she said.
Unfortunately, the editor for the historic Black weekly newspaper, is a bit used to the deafening silence around Brandy Odom’s murder.
“This is not something new to our community. What I always say to the folks is that we need the Black Press, the extended media, to get the full story and the correct story because the mainstream media, it might not fit their agenda. They may not be bothered, and the writers in the newsroom may not be Black or conscious or not have the power to go and get some story like this. So I don’t always expect the mainstream media to cover our story because they don’t,” she declared.
Ms. Arinde told The Final Call she expects Blacks to do what they can, and brace for things to get worse. “You have an individual in office who’s set a tone when you see the way people talk to women, Black women in particular, and it looks like they’ve lost their mind,” she stated. She was referring to President Donald Trump who has insulted and verbally attacked Black women.
“There’s always been an attitude toward Black women, because we are such a force, and an assault on a Black female would go unnoticed because they don’t care, but we should care and we must care and we do care,” Ms. Arinde said.
She recalled 21-year-old college student Romona Moore, who was killed two months after she went missing from Brooklyn in April 2003. An anonymous caller tipped her mother to an abandoned house where two men were arrested. They were convicted in March 2006 of kidnapping, rape, torture and 1st degree murder.
“The mother told the cops and the cops said ‘well, she’s just a runaway’ … (the mother) said she’s not,” Ms. Arinde said. “It’s stuff like that. If they’d have been on it immediately, she might still be alive.”
When the mainstream does care, Ms. Arinde asks, “What’s your angle?”
“Let’s not be shocked, because while we’re sitting there being shocked, they’re doing it again. People are looking for that positive, good, redeeming factor, and it’s probably not there. It’s time to go by history,” she said. “Why is that not national news? Why is Brandy not national news? Somebody murdered her. Chopped her up, and had a chance to put her body all over the park! Who does that?”
(Daleel Muhammad reported from New York)