05/16/2013 09:53 am ET

Christian Ferdinand Arrested In Gerritsen Beach Murder Of Shaniesha Forbes, 14-Year-Old Girl

By Aidan Gardiner

BROOKLYN — A man has been arrested and accused of suffocating 14-year-old Shaniesha Forbes, dumping her body on Gerritsen Beach and lighting her on fire, cops said.

Christian Ferdinand, 20, from Maine, was booked Thursday, two weeks after Shaniesha's death was ruled a homicide and more than four months after her body was found, according to the NYPD.

The teen's naked body was found near Gerritsen and Louis avenues Sunday Jan. 6, 2013, police said.

The New York Post reported that Ferdinand, of Limestone, Maine, had been romantically involved with Shaniesha and suffocated the aspiring nurse in his apartment when he suspected she was pregnant.

Police could not immediately confirm the Post's account or the extent of their relationship, but said the two knew each other and were not related.

Ferdinand kept the girl's body in his home for several days before dragging it to the beach in a suitcase and setting it alight, the Post reported. He fled to Maine, where he was arrested, according to the paper.

He has been charged with second-degree murder, police said.

Friends, relatives and classmates at Brooklyn's Academy for Young Writers took to social media to mourn Shaniesha, with many remembering her as kind and lively.

"As I think back from all the old times they bring joy to my heart, but tears to my eyes," wrote longtime friend Ashley James. "Shaniesha, I love you and I hope you rest in paradise."

Relatives said they'd had grown frustrated as the months dragged on without any developments in the case.

"She was a very good girl," said her grandmother Daisy Smith, 73. "The whole family has grieved, sleepless nights."

Shaniesha's relatives were expected to hold a press conference at 9 a.m. Thursday at their Flatlands home.