Police

Teenager arraigned for ‘horrific and brutal crime’ in murder of Timothy Hill Ranch resident

Update (Monday, 5:30 p.m.): The Centereach teenager accused of killing another teen in 2019 was arraigned Monday before Supreme Court Justice Karen Wilutis in Riverhead.

Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney announced the indictment against John Mann Jr., who was 16 at the time he allegedly killed Henry Hernandez, who was also 16. He’s being charged with murder.

“This was a horrific and brutal crime committed for no rational reason but what is just as disturbing is that the defendant was 16 years-old when he allegedly committed this callous act,” the district attorney said in a statement. “We will make sure that the victim gets justice and that this defendant gets to account for his alleged actions.”

New details emerged on the killing following Monday’s arraignment, where Mr. Mann pleaded not guilty. Investigators determined that the two teenagers had been hospitalized together in Brunswick Hospital Center in Amityville in March 2019. When Henry was released, he allegedly went to the defendant’s home on Jay Road in Centereach and stole the defendant’s father’s truck. At some point around June 2, 2019, the defendant lured Henry to a location nicknamed “Sand Pit.” The suspect then duct taped Henry and struck him repeatedly with a blunt object, according to the district attorney.

The defendant placed the body in a hole and covered it with debris.

The remains at some point were relocated and placed in a plastic tub on the defendant’s next door neighbor’s property. Those skeletal remains were recovered March 15, 2020. The remains were wrapped in two separate plastic bags and a further examination revealed the hands and feet were bound with duct tape, as were the head and mouth, the DA said.

Investigators used DNA tests to link the skeletal remains to Henry.

In August 2019, Riverhead Town police issued a missing person report for Henry, saying he had been missing from the Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch since June.

Mr. Mann is due back in court July 13.

Original Story: Suffolk County homicide detectives on Friday announced the arrest of a 19-year-old Centereach man in the murder of a teen who had gone missing in 2019 from the Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch in Riverhead.

Henry Hernandez

Henry Hernandez was 15 years old and living at the ranch when he was reported missing in June 2019, Riverhead Town police said later that summer.

On Friday, Suffolk police announced they had identified Henry, who previously lived in Hempstead, as the victim of a homicide, saying his remains were found in March 2020. Police said at the time they believed the unknown victim had been killed about a year prior to the remains being discovered.

John Mann Jr., 19, of Centereach, who online records show lived on the same block where the remains were found, has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the teen’s death, police said. Mr. Mann is expected to be arraigned Monday.