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New London - Matthew Chew, who was stabbed to death on Huntington Street in late October, was targeted by strangers who acted without an apparent motive, according to police, who charged six teens Tuesday in connection with the murder.
After charging five of the six suspects during the day Tuesday, police announced at about 8:30 p.m. that the final suspect, Marquis Singleton, 17, of 50 Mountain Ave., had surrendered.
Tuesday morning, police arrested Idris Elahi, 17, of 20 Home St., No. 2, and charged him with murder. He is being held on $1.5 million bond. They said Singleton also will face a murder charge.
Tuesday afternoon, police charged four teens with accessory to murder. They are Matias Perry, 17, of 36 Wasau Place, Apt. 2; Brian Rabell, 18, of 93 State Pier Road, Apt. A-4; Rashad Perry, 17, of 281 Crystal Ave.; and Tyree Bundy, 17, of 93 State Pier Road.
The six suspects in police custody are scheduled to be arraigned today in New London Superior Court on Broad Street.
Police have backed away from early statements that Chew, who was walking home from his job at 2Wives Brick Oven Pizza to his nearby Huntington Street apartment on Oct. 29, was targeted in a drug-related killing that posed no risk to the public.
"The investigation revealed that despite the victim being actively engaged in negotiating the purchase of narcotics (via cell phone) at the time of the incident, there was no previous relationship between the victim and his assailants and no apparent motive for the attack," Deputy Chief Marshall Segar said in a statement.
Elahi's mother, Damita Elahi, declined to comment on her son's arrest. No one answered the door at Singleton's address Tuesday afternoon.
Bundy is a junior at New London High School, Singleton was expelled earlier this year, and Elahi is enrolled in adult education courses, according to a school administrator. Matias Perry was charged with third-degree larceny by possession on Sept. 10.
Chew's parents, Richard and Marilyn Chew, who lived in Gales Ferry for two decades before moving to California, were contacted by police Tuesday morning and told arrests were imminent.
The family has received little specific information on the circumstances surrounding their son's death but said police have promised to provide them with a report on their investigation.
"Happy is probably not the right word, but we're pleased that the wheels of justice are moving forward and that we will have some closure on our son's murder," Richard Chew said in a telephone interview from Arcadia, Calif.
Chew, a 25-year-old musician and artist who graduated from Ledyard High School in 2003, lived downtown with his girlfriend and his dog. He was a disc jockey at several local establishments and was a considered a vital employee at 2Wives, where he created a pear and Gorgonzola pizza.
"Matt was an employee and a tenant and we knew him to be a good guy, otherwise he wouldn't be working for us," said 2Wives co-owner Amy Sarcia. She said she was surprised that police released information about Chew making a drug deal on his cell phone at the time of the attack.
"In some ways I understand why police had to say that,'' she said. "But I don't think it was necessary. I'm so glad police were able to make the arrest. I know they were working very hard."
From the onset, Chew's friends said they did not believe he died in a drug-related incident, describing him as a practicing Buddhist who would not put up a fight if attacked. Some, like Sebastian Coppotelli, a 2Wives employee who lives on Green Street, said he felt police were quick to describe the crime as a drug-related incident to calm fears among downtown residents and visitors.
"It seems unfair they smeared his name to make the town seem safe," Coppotelli said. "It is safe. I've never really felt unsafe around here."
Amanda Bachand, one of Chew's friends for the past five years, said she and others who knew him are upset that police continue to allege that Chew was trying to purchase drugs, a statement they believe is irrelevant to the case.
"We haven't been too upset that the police have been so tight-lipped about their investigation, but what we have been upset about is that Segar keeps bringing up these drug allegations," Bachand said. "He is tarnishing Matt's name for no reason than just to excuse something he had said prior."
Police found Chew on the street near 2Wives at about 11:30 p.m. Oct. 29 after receiving a call about a person hit by a car. Sources briefed on the investigation said Chew had been stabbed six times.
He was taken to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, then flown by Life Star helicopter to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he died the following morning.
On Tuesday, Segar called the case "complex and fragile" and said that authorities had been aware of Elahi and Singleton's identities since early in the investigation, monitoring both teens' behavior and locations using uniformed and undercover officers.
Police conducted hundreds of hours of interviews and executed 15 search warrants, seizing more than 200 items including clothing, cell phones, personal effects, weapons and DNA of the suspects, Segar said.
Arrest and search warrants have been sealed by the court, and no further information will be released by police, said Segar, citing "the sensitive nature of this case."