Richmond Hill stab victim was quiet, loving: Family

By Zach Patberg

“He was a quiet, loving kid who never argued with anyone,” said Balkaran Rookhum of his son, Avinash, in an interview at his Richmond Hill house Monday.The alleged prostitute, Quanyel Cullins, told police after she was arrested that she had pulled a knife on Avinash after he grew angry and got rough with her, according to court records. Police said Cullins, 21, hit and stabbed Rookhum several times in the head and face with a Japanese-style knife in a room at the Econo Lodge in Ozone Park where the two went for sex.”He got mad. I hit him with my knife when he came at me. I stabbed him,” she told police according to court documents.But Rookhum said police found his son fully clothed and found no marks on Cullins or disarray in the motel room to indicate there had been a struggle.The father said Rookhum, an ambitious accountant at the nonprofit Covenant House in Manhattan, had come home from work around 5 p.m. the night of the incident and went to a gym in Long Island as he did every weekday. He returned from his workout at about 10 p.m., got cleaned up and left around midnight to go out with his friends, the father said.Early the next morning, Rookhum said a detective showed up at his door and asked if everyone that lived there was present. Only then did Rookhum discover that his son had not come home.According to her statement provided by the court, Cullins said she met Rookhum on the subway and went with him to the hotel. After she stabbed him, Cullins said in her statement that she took the $40 Rookhum had with him and threw his wallet and credit cards in a sewer, She was later arrested and charged with murder, weapon possession and several counts of tampering with evidence, the Queens District Attorney's office, said. She faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted. The investigation is ongoing.Avinash Rookhum, an honors graduate of Queens College who was working toward his broker's license, lived with his father, sister and brother in their Richmond Hill house. He and his sister, a law student at St. John's University, had aspirations of opening their own accounting-law firm, said their father, who manages a warehouse in Queens.He traveled frequently with his brother, who works for an airline at Kennedy Airport, flying to Canada, Chile and, last January, to Guyana to visit family.”He loved playing pool, poker and tennis. He was a tennis champion in high school,” Rookhum said. “And he was the accountant of our home too.”Cullins is due back in court Feb. 7.Reach reporter Zach Patberg by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

More from Around New York