Man charged in murder of Jakarah Lopez-Moore, 16, whose body was found in the woods

Man arrested in murder of 16-year-old girl

Man arrested in murder of 16-year-old girl

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A man has been charged in the murder of Jakarah Lopez-Moore, the 16-year-old girl whose body was found in the woods.

U.S. Marshals arrested Reign Tapiato, 27, on Friday morning on State Street. Rochester Police say he took Lopez-Moore into the woods on Aug. 27 and fatally shot her in the head.

Jakarah left her home on Weld Street on Aug. 27 and her family reported her missing to police when she didn’t return home. A month and a half later, on Oct. 14, people fishing around the Erie Canal discovered Jakarah’s body in the woods behind Vanguard Parkway.

RPD investigators determined that she was killed the same night she went missing and identified Tapiato as the suspect. According to RPD, Tapiato had a loaded handgun on him at the time of his arrest. In addition to second-degree murder, he is charged with criminal possession of a weapon. Tapiato was taken to Monroe County Jail and will be arraigned on Saturday morning in Rochester City Court.

Jakarah’s best friend spoke with News10NBC about her shock after learning that Jakarah was found dead. She described Jakarah as a lovable, happy, and smart friend. News10NBC also spoke with Jakarah’s grandmother, who said Jakarah’s last words to her were “I’ll be right back.”

Police believe she was killed the night she walked from her home.

“I ask that we continue to pray for the family and that we continue to look over our young people as they go through all the trial and tribulations they go through in their life,” Mayor Malik Evans said at the police news conference. “But no one, regardless of their age, should ever meet a tragic fate of being murdered in cold blood like Jakarah was.”

RPD says Tapiato and Lopez-Moore were acquaintances. They knew each other. It wasn’t a random act of violence.

But RPD is guarded about saying much more

Brean: “Deputy Chief, what was the relationship between the victim and the defendant?”
Dep. Chief Keith Stith, RPD Deputy Chief of Community Engagement: “They were acquaintances.”

Brean: “Can you elaborate on how they were acquaintances?”
Dep. Chief Keith Stith: “They had a relationship.”

“We’re very limited in what we can say now,” Captain Greg Bello said. “So we can say they are acquaintances. They did know each other. This is not a random act of violence. But at the same time, what that relationship is, that’s going to be built throughout the court process.”

Tapiato is scheduled to be arraigned in Rochester City Court Saturday morning.