New York City police suspect Kwauhuru Govan, charged with the 2005 murder and dismemberment of a 19-year-old gay man, may in fact be a serial killer

By Chris Harris
February 23, 2017 05:40 PM

New York City police suspect a 38-year-old Brooklyn man charged this week with the 2005 murder and dismemberment of a 19-year-old gay man may in fact be a serial killer, PEOPLE confirms.

Appearing Wednesday in Brooklyn Supreme Court, Kwauhuru Govan struggled wildly with court officers as he learned he was being formally charged with the slaying of Rashawn Brazell.

Brazell was last seen on Feb. 14, 2005, while making his way to a Valentine’s Day lunch with his mother, according to authorities. In the days after he vanished, some of his dismembered body parts, stuffed into plastic bags, turned up in N.Y.C. subway tunnels.

The last pieces of his corpse — his waist and pelvis — were eventually found by workers sifting through refuse at a recycling plant. His head has never been recovered.

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Govan denied any involvement in the murder during Wednesday’s court appearance, telling the judge he’s no killer.

“Kwauhuru Govan is innocent!” he yelled. “I can’t even dissect a frog.”

Brazell’s death is not the only case in which Govan has been allegedly implicated: Four months ago, police charged him with the 2004 murder of Brooklyn high school student Sharabia Thomas.

In 2004, the 17-year-old Thomas was bound, beaten and strangled before being wrapped in two laundry bags that were left in a Brooklyn alleyway, according to authorities.

Investigators say they linked Govan to the slaying after his DNA was linked to samples recovered from Thomas’ fingernails. His DNA had been obtained when he was arrested in 2015 in Florida, in an armed robbery investigation, according to court records.

As in Brazell’s case, Govan disputes his involvement in Thomas’ death.

“I been framed,” he blurted out in court during a November arraignment. “I been framed. I didn’t do this … you got the wrong person.”

According to police, Govan grew up across the street from Brazell, and the two were friendly as children. Govan has insisted he was in another state at the time Brazell went missing.

A police source tells PEOPLE that a number of witnesses have come forward with information that links Govan to Brazell’s disappearance. The source would not discuss that evidence in any detail but claimed the case against Govan was “solid.”

On Wednesday, more than a dozen court officers had to carry Govan into court when he failed to leave his holding cell. He has also refused to let authorities fingerprint him.

During a news conference Wednesday, N.Y.C. police Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce told reporters that Govan has lived in several states, including California and Florida.

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Boyce said he believes “there’s a great possibility” Govan could be responsible for more killings. He said detectives are looking into similar crimes committed in states where Govan once resided.

A source tells PEOPLE Govan is considered a person of interest in at least two other unsolved homicides.

Govan’s attorney could not be reached for comment. He is being held without bail. He has pleaded not guilty to Thomas’ murder but has not entered a plea in Brazell’s murder.