A 16-year-old suspect has been charged with murder in the stabbing death of his classmate at Jonathan Law High School in Milford, Conn.
Maren Sanchez, a Jonathan Law junior, died following an altercation in a school hallway that occurred just after 7 a.m. Friday. The attack happend just hours before the school's junior prom.
A school staff member witnessed part of the attack, which took place near a stairwell, and tried to save the victim, Police Chief Keith Mello said. Sanchez suffered several cuts to her neck, chest and face, according to police. She was pronounced dead at a local hospital about a half hour later.
The suspect, a 16-year-old student at the school, was taken into custody shortly after the incident. Milford police have charged the unnamed student with murder. He is being held at a medical facility and is expected to be arraigned on Monday.
Police recovered a knife at the crime scene and executed a search warrant at the suspect's home.
Sanchez's cousin, Edward Kovac, read a statement from the victim's family on Friday afternoon.
"The unprovoked attack on Maren this morning, has unfortunately, for our family, resulted in the permanent loss of Maren Victoria Sanchez, a bright light, full of hopes and dreams with her future at her fingertips. Maren should be celebrating at her prom this evening, with her friends and classmates. Instead, we are mourning her death and we are trying, as a community, to understand this senseless loss of life," Kovac said.
At the school, students were trying to make sense of the tragedy.
Sean Chesler, a junior at Jonathan Law High School, said he has never know the suspect to be violent.
"I’ve never known him as anything like that whatsoever," Chesler said.
Asked about rumors that the assault was related to a prom invitation, Mello said it is too soon to say what the motive was and whether the attack had any connection to the dance.
"This is a very raw, a very fresh investigation," he said.
School superintendent Elizabeth Feser said the high school is "devastated by the loss of one of our students," a teen she described as an athlete and a member of the National Honor Society. She called Sanchez "vibrant" and "an incredible contributor, someone who was respected."
Chesler said it took awhile for some people to find out exactly what happened, while others had more information.
"I had realized what had happened," he said. "I wasn’t scared that something else was going to happen, but I was nervous about how it was going to play out after that."
Mayor Benjamin Blake released a statement saying, "Our hearts go out to the family of Maren Sanchez, the sixteen year old junior at Jonathan Law High School who passed away this morning, and to those also affected by this tragedy."
The mayor called the attack an isolated event and said that there is an active criminal investigation.
"Jonathan Law High School will be open and counseling services will be available throughout the weekend. I encourage students, staff, alumni and members of the community to take advantage of these resources," Blake said.
Students have been released for the day as police continue their investigation. The junior prom scheduled for Friday has been postponed.
The mood was somber this afternoon at Vazzano’s, where the junior prom was supposed to be held tonight, and the decorations are down.
“There's no words to describe how we feel,” Eileen Prezioso, of Vazzano's, said. “It's awful.”
Feser said counselors are being made available to members of the school community.