BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WCBS/CNN) - A 19-year-old man from Connecticut is charged with murder in the death by strangulation of a 14-year-old boy he had allegedly been talking to through Snapchat.
Family members’ hearts are shattered after the death of 14-year-old Jose Nunez. They say the teenager was lured out of his Bridgeport, Connecticut, home around 4 a.m. Tuesday for sex with a man he had been communicating with on Snapchat.
“He’s gone, and we’re never going to see him again. We’re never going to talk to him again. I just want to hold him and hug him and kiss him, and I can’t,” said Wendy Rivera, the victim’s aunt.
After waking up to find the front door wide open, Jose’s family called police to file a missing person’s report. A day later, officers told them the 14-year-old was dead.
“They told us he was dead, and they threw him away like a piece of garbage,” Rivera said.
Jose’s body was found in a wooded area 20 miles away in Oxford, where authorities arrested 19-year-old Diante Willoughby for his murder. Police say the cause of death was determined to be strangulation.
“Throughout the course of the investigation, we had been closely surveilling a person of interest. That person was observed at the scene of the body… and he was taken into custody,” said Bridgeport Police Capt. Brian Fitzgerald. “He made admissions to his involvement in the death.”
Jose’s family says Willoughby had offered the 14-year-old money in the past for hugs and illicit photos and that he often visited the neighborhood and engaged with children. Authorities also say the suspect is a former police explorer.
“He would buy them Uber Eats. He would give them money for anything,” Rivera said.
As the family prepares to say goodbye to Jose, a high school freshman who loved snakes, video games and basketball, the teen’s stepfather, Higinio Campos, is pleading with parents to monitor what their children are doing on social media before it’s too late.
“Please, please don’t allow your kids to have Snapchat… Please get off of social media. The kids don’t need it,” Campos said. “The older guys can easily manipulate children. Take care of your children, please.”
Willoughby has been charged with murder and is being held on a $2 million bond. Police have not said if anyone else was involved in the crime.
Anyone who feels they have been victimized by Willoughby in the past or anyone with information regarding past criminal activity involving him is asked to call police.