MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Police and prosecutors reportedly knew who murdered Rabbi Joseph Raksin’s within weeks, but waited over a year to build their case before an arrest.
Raksin was shot to death in a robbery attempt on August 9, 2014.
“He was shot and killed while he was on his way to synagogue in the area of 175th Street and NE 8th Court,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “As a deeply religious orthodox Jew, he was carrying nothing of value as it was the Sabbath.”
Fernandez Rundle said two males were seen running away from the shooting. The police believe several more individuals may have been involved.
The 60-year-old rabbi from Brooklyn was in South Florida visiting his daughter. His killing set off prayers and vigils from Miami to New York.
Early Wednesday morning the Miami-Dade Police Department Homicide Bureau announced the arrest of 15-year old DeAndre Charles. The arrest was made in the area of 183rd Street and NW 6th Avenue. Charles attended Miami Norland Senior High.
“Today I am here to announce that yesterday this fine team of lawyers went to the Grand Jury and indicted 15-year old DeAndre Charles as the gunman in this cold blooded murder,” said Fernandez Rundle during a news conference Wednesday afternoon. “He’s charged with one count of first degree murder and one count of attempted robbery with a firearm.”
Charles will be tried as an adult and is scheduled to appear in court on December 14th.
Police sources told CBS4’s Investigative Reporter Jim DeFede that police and prosecutors identified the teen accused of Rabbi Raksin’s murder within weeks of the shooting. However, they waited 16 months to build their case and make an arrest.
According to the police sources, Charles did not make any incriminating statements when he was taken into custody and almost immediately invoked his right to an attorney.
“His murder at the hands of thugs has caused an emptiness and a void that cannot be replaced. He was a good, kind and caring father and a wonderful individual whose life was cut short by a violent act while visiting his family and grandchildren,” said Raksin’s daughter Shuli Labkowski.
Shuli Labkowski then thanked those who worked so hard to make the arrest possbile.
“Thank God, justice is not made yet but we are on the way, it’s a step toward justice,”said Raksin’s son-in-law Israel Labkowski. “We don’t live like barbarians, we don’t live in the Middle East or where people can do what ever they think they could do. We have a justice system and police that enforce it and thank God they are doing their job.”
Labkowski said he was disheartened to hear how young Charles is.
“It’s sad that a kid not even 18 could do something like this. Not believing in God is what he needs he will get. He does not need to steal to get it. And if you don’t get it, you murder somebody,” said Labkowski. “I don’t know what his story is, I don’t know what his background is, what he went through, but there is no excuse for an act like that.”
When asked what he would tell Charles if he came face to face with him in court, Labkowski replied, “I have to think about it, it will take some time to word it properly, to take off the anger, take off any feelings and see what has to be said.”
Acting Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez said their job is only half done is solving this crime.
“I tell you with the deepest sense from the bottom of my heart that we will not rest until the other perpetrators are arrested. The same effort we have for any murder in this county we’re putting forth in this effort,” said Perez. “The work is not done here. This is only one step forward.”
For more than a year Raksin’s family, the community and law-enforcement have been doing all they can to keep his memory alive and to find his killer. And now, during Hanukkah, they say their prayers have been answered.
“We lost a tourist who came to celebrate with his grandchildren his birthday but I guess his grandchildren will celebrate with his soul on Hanukkah, the miracle of lights, may a candle burn forever in protecting all human beings worldwide,” said community activist Yona Lunger.