Brentwood gangs
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini requested tips in the murder of two teens on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016 (Long Island Press photo)

Suffolk County police urged tipsters to share information on who murdered two teenage girls in Brentwood this week while the victims’ families pleaded for an end to gang violence suspected to be involved.

Friends and family set up a makeshift memorial with candles and birthday balloons near where the bodies of Kayla Cuevas, 16, and Nisa Mickens—who was slain the day before her 16th birthday—were found. Police are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Both teens, who were beaten to death, were from Brentwood.

“This is an act of savagery in our community and we need to work together,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini told reporters during a news conference Thursday in Brentwood. “These are some of the worst wounds I’ve seen.”

He offered no motive as to what led to the tragic slayings. The two girls, who were lifelong friends, died of blunt forced trauma, the commissioner said.

Mickens was discovered on Stahley Street, adjacent to a elementary school, on Tuesday evening. After receiving a tip, investigators found Cuevas’ body Wednesday evening nearby in the backyard of a home up against a fence in a wooded area off Ray Court. Cuevas was originally thought to be missing.

Sini said that area had been searched after Mickens’ body was found, but how extensively the wooded area was scrutinized he didn’t know. He acknowledged that Cuevas’ body should’ve been discovered earlier. That investigators initially missed her lifeless body, however, was “not for a lack of effort,” Sini said.

The police department had already reached out to community leaders and school officials, as well as federal law enforcement partners, he added.

As family, friends and strangers alike poured onto the street to offer condolences, Rob Mickens, Nisa’s father, thanked the community for their support. He grew emotional when considering what the perpetrators had taken from him.

“I’m supposed to walk my daughter down the aisle. They took that away,” he said. “I’m supposed to have a Sweet 16 dance with my daughter. They took that away.”

“We should not be here right now getting ready to put our babies into the grave,” Mickens added.

Mickens and Cuevas had been best friend since they day they met, finding joy on the basketball court, family members said. Last Christmas, they each bought dog tags individually engraved with the words “Ride” and “Die”—a testament to their bond.

Standing just feet from where her daughter’s body was found, Elizabeth Alvarado gave an impassioned plea for the violence to stop.

“How many more lives do they need to take?” she said, her voice cracking. “How much more blood do they really need to have on the street? I mean, my daughter’s blood is on the street, it’s stained right there.”

“When is it going to finish?”

Homicide Squad detectives are continuing the investigation and ask anyone with information on the slayings to call them at 631-852-6392 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All callers will remain confidential.

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Rashed Mian has been covering local news for the Long Island Press since 2011. He graduated from Hofstra University in 2010 where he studied print journalism. Rashed, the staff's multimedia reporter, covers daily news for the web, shoots/edits feature videos and writes about civil liberties. He loves Afghan food and sports. Rashed is also a caffeine freak. Email: rmian@longislandpress.com. Twitter: rashedmian