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Fugitive returned to Queens for arraignment on murder charges in 2020 killing of girlfriend

fugitive who killed girlfriend returns to Queens for arraignment
A DSNY tow truck operator made a grisly discovery in South Jamaica in March 2021 of a woman’s remains that were stuffed in the trunk of an abandoned vehicle. (Photo by Lloyd Mitchell)

A man from upstate Troy, New York, who spent nearly a year on the run after his girlfriend was killed and stuffed in the trunk of an abandoned car, was indicted by a Queens grand jury on murder charges, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

Kareem Flake, 30, was arraigned Wednesday before Queens Supreme Court Justice Donna Golia on a seven-count indictment charging him with murder, kidnapping and other crimes following his extradition from Florida.

Flake is accused of killing Destini Smothers, a 26-year-old mother of two from Troy in November 2020. The victim’s remains were discovered four months later in the trunk of an abandoned vehicle belonging to the defendant in South Jamaica.

fugitive who killed girlfriend returns to Queens for arraignment
Kareem Flake was arraigned in Queens Supreme Court Wednesday on murder and kidnapping charges in the killing of Destini Somers, the mother of his two children. (Photo courtesy of NYPD)

According to the charges, Smothers was last seen in a car with Flake after leaving an outing with friends at the Bowlero bowling alley in Woodside, where they had been seen arguing on Nov. 3, 2020. As alleged, the defendant was with Smothers during that outing. On Nov. 8, the victim was reported missing in her hometown by her family.

Katz said on March 10, 2021, a Toyota Camry which had been abandoned at the intersection of 134th Avenue and 151st Place in South Jamaica, was in the process of being towed when a tow truck operator from the Department of Sanitation observed a flat tire on the vehicle.

The operator proceeded to pull over and opened the trunk to look for a spare. Inside the trunk of the Toyota Camry, he observed the decomposing remains of the victim and immediately notified law enforcement. During the course of the subsequent investigation, it was determined that the vehicle belonged to Flake.

Katz said an autopsy performed by the city medical examiner indicated that the victim died from a gunshot wound to the head.

Flake was sought as a suspect in the death of Smothers and he was apprehended on April 9, 2022, by the authorities in Osceola County, Florida. Flake was extradited back to Queens on Wednesday and arraigned in Queens Supreme Court.

“On the run for more than a year, this defendant is now in custody and charged with the brutal murder of his girlfriend, who was also the mother of his two young children,” Katz said. “This is the worst possible outcome for any individual experiencing intimate partner violence, and we express our condolences to the victim’s family. This defendant will be held to account for his alleged criminal actions.”

Justice Golia set the defendant’s return date for Aug. 11. Flake faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

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