New York

Arrest in 1996 cold case marks career pinnacle for NYPD investigator

The key evidence in the long-unsolved murder of a Bronx mom was uncovered a quarter-century later beneath the victim’s fingernails.

Detective Robert Klein of Bronx Homicide, assigned the February 1996 cold case killing of Jasmine Porter in early 2021, soon learned about the fingernail clippings and scrapings taken from the victim way back then — and discovered they were never tested for DNA.

The evidence, once reviewed in the new millennium, steered the investigator to suspect Gregory Fleetwood and helped close the languishing case dating to Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s first term in office.

“For families like the Porters, this [case] was never cold,” said Klein. “Every birthday, every holiday, every anniversary of her death, every milestone with her son — it was never cold.”

The arrest was almost anti-climactic: Police staked out his building for six hours, waiting for the suspect to return. When Fleetwood left a short time later, Klein had his suspect in custody and the victim’s family had its long-awaited closure.

“I can’t think of anything that’s more gratifying than taking a case that’s sort of lying dormant for so long,” said Klein, a seven-year veteran homicide investigator. “Justice is at least on its way to being served. It’s sort of the pinnacle of my police career.”

The investigator was immediately struck by an image recounted by the victim’s 4-year-old son, who spent two days beside his mother’s corpse before worried neighbors called police to enter the Morris Heights apartment.

“The son indicated there was a man sitting on top of his mother, and that the man was naked,” said Klein. “He stated that he tried to help her, but [the killer] was too heavy and that the man yelled at him to get away.”

Once in custody, the defendant insisted he was innocent and denied even knowing the victim. But Fleetwood’s statements placed himself on the block where the victim lived, and the suspect had a rap sheet including the August 1987 strangling of a woman named Linda Miller as the two were getting high in a Bronx apartment building.

He was arrested that same day and paroled in August 1994. In both cases, authorities said, the female victims were pregnant.

Oddly enough, the 21st century investigation started with a bad tip before moving into more fertile territory. A robbery suspect was overheard in a jailhouse call talking about the Porter slaying, with the information leading the frustrated investigator nowhere.

“But in the interim I got ahold of the case file,” recounted Klein. “I started tracking down people who were interviewed back in ‘96, and I also got ahold of the forensic biology report.”

In the end, he was able to share word of the arrest with the victim’s family, including her brother Dereke and sister Shauna Porter White.

“When I called Ms. Porter White [Monday] and informed her, it was very emotional for her,” he said.

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