Metro Weekly

Man Arrested for Allegedly Shooting Gay Teen and Burning His Body

Police claim the suspect shot 19-year-old Deandre Matthews in the head before calling a friend to help him dispose of the body.

Photo: Fernando Gregory, via Dreamstime.

New York police have arrested a suspect accused of killing a gay teenage college student by shooting him in the head before burning his body and discarding his remains on freight train tracks in Brooklyn.

Isiah Baez, 19, who was taken into custody last Thursday, faces one count of murder, one count of possessing a weapon, and one count of tampering with evidence in the February murder of 19-year-old Deandre Matthews, according to the online crime website Law & Crime. Baez lives just over a half-mile away from the spot where Matthews’ body was discovered.

Police previously arrested 24-year-old Remy McPrecia earlier this month, alleging he helped try to dispose of Matthews’ body after being contacted by Baez and asked for help. He faces one charge of concealment of a human corpse and a second charge of tampering with physical evidence.

According to a press release from the New York Police Department, around 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7, on-duty officers responded to a 911 call about the body of an adult male on the freight train tracks near the 2200 block of Nostrand Avenue, in Brooklyn’s Flatbush neighborhood.   

Upon arriving on scene, first responders discovered the man — later identified as Matthews — “unconscious and unresponsive, with significant burn wounds throughout his body.” EMTs later declared him dead at the scene. An autopsy subsequently revealed that Matthews had been shot in the head and showed signs of smoke inhalation.

Investigators subsequently discovered that Matthews had been last seen leaving his home, in the 100 block of East 56th Street, around 5:45 p.m. on Feb. 6. He was later reported missing by his family the following morning, just hours before his body was located.

Matthews’ sister, Dajanae Gillespie, told police her brother had left his workplace in Crown Heights around 5 p.m., returning home briefly to borrow his mother’s SUV before heading out once more.

“I want to know why [the killer] did it,” Gillespie told WNBC. “What was the reason? DeAndre wasn’t a violent person. This wasn’t for retaliation. He wasn’t in the streets.”

Matthews’ mother, Danielle Matthews, told police that she had found her SUV using the vehicle’s GPS system, saying the Jeep Cherokee had been burned and left abandoned outside of a warehouse on Troy Avenue in Crown Heights. She told the New York Daily News that police told her that, based on records of her son’s phone, his body was transported to Staten Island before being disposed of in Flatbush.

“[Baez] killed my baby and he was riding around with his body in the backseat of his car,” she said in outrage. 

“He didn’t just shoot my son; he set him on fire and murdered him. I’m just numb,” Danielle Matthews said, adding: “Tell Isiah to go to hell.”

Police have not released any information on a possible motive for the killing, although Matthews’ family had said, shortly after his body was discovered, they believed he might have been killed because he was gay. But Baez faces no hate crime-related charges in connection with the murder.

Baez’s mother, who declined to share her name, said she was “shocked” to learn her son had been arrested for murder. When asked if Matthews’ sexual orientation may have played a role, she responded that her son “has family that is gay so why would he do that? That doesn’t make any sense.”

Danielle Matthews told the Daily News that her son had been talking to Baez on his phone for over a year and the device contained pictures of the two of them together.

“I just want to know why, but I really think that he was hiding his true identity,” she said, speculating on a possible motive for the crime. “We know my son was gay but I didn’t really know how they knew each other. He didn’t tell us everything.”

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!