Cold case cracked: Virginia man indicted 30 years after 15-year-old Far Rockaway girl was strangled, murdered

Far Rockaway
A Virginia man was arraigned in Queens Supreme Court more than three decades after he allegedly strangled a Far Rockaway girl with her own bra. (File/Lloyd Mitchell)

A Virginia man with a famous name was indicted by a Queens grand jury in the cold case killing of a 15-year-old girl in Far Rockaway more than 30 years ago.

Jerry Lewis, 58, of Shawsville, Virginia, was arraigned Monday before Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder on an indictment charging him with murder in the second degree for allegedly strangling Nadine Slade in her Far Rockaway home.

According to the charges, on May 7, 1992, Lewis allegedly killed the teenager using her bra. Her mother later discovered her naked body in a bathroom shared by two apartments in their multi-family home. Lewis and several others had been in the adjoining apartment the night before the murder. Lewis and Slade did not know each other, according to the charges.

After a painstaking investigation by the NYPD and Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz’s office, there was a break in the case. Last year, the DA’s office and the NYPD requested that the New York City Medical Examiner’s office test for DNA under the victim’s preserved fingernail clippings. The test resulted in DNA evidence that linked Lewis to the crime.

The investigation also included multiple witness interviews and extensive record searches under the supervision of the NYPD’s Cold Case Detective Squad and Assistant District Attorney Karen Ross, Deputy Bureau Chief of the DA’s Homicide Bureau and Chief of the Cold Case Unit.

“Any mother’s worst nightmare is to survive a child,” Katz said. “To lose a child in such a horrific way causes unimaginable pain. Not knowing who committed the crime compounds the suffering. In the end, we hope to achieve justice for Nadine and bring closure and some measure of solace to her bereaved mother.”

Justice Holder ordered Lewis to return to court on June 7. If convicted, Lewis faces up to 25 years to life in prison.