A New York man, 21, found seriously injured near the body of a 17-year-old girl is suspected of killing the teen and posting photos of her body on Instagram, where they’d first met digitally, police said Monday.
Investigators found the girl’s body Sunday outside a vehicle in Utica, along with the man; he was hospitalized but is expected to survive, police said.
The teen was identified as Bianca Devins, Utica Police Sgt. Michael Curley said. He identified Brandon Clark, 21, as the injured man and suspect in the slaying.
Clark was not immediately charged, and could not speak with officers while he was sedated in the hospital, reports said.
The girl’s family said in a statement to Fox News: “Bianca, age 17, was a talented artist, a loving sister, daughter, and cousin, and a wonderful young girl, taken from us all too soon. She is now looking down on us, as she joins her cat, Belle, in heaven.”
Police were investigating the case as a murder and attempted suicide, Lt. Bryan Coromato said, WNBC reported.
Utica Police said in a statement to Fox News: “With respect to their relationship, it was learned that the two had met on the social media platform Instagram approximately two months ago. They utilized this as a means of communication primarily, and their relationship progressed into a personally intimate one. They had spent time together, and were acquainted with each other’s families.”
Investigators believe the man posted pictures of the girl’s corpse on Instagram, where at least one was widely circulated, Coromato said.
Devins’ death sparked a wave of attention and disgust online over the pictures. Some Internet users urged others to stop circulating the images.
“Our thoughts go out to those affected by this tragic event. We are taking every measure to remove this content from our platforms,” Instagram spokeswoman Stephanie Otway told Fox News via email.
Instagram blocked the hashtag #yesjuliet for attempting to spread the image of the girl’s corpse.
Clark’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram were removed Monday, and Otway told Fox News that Instagram was in contact with law enforcement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.