N.Y. Mom Was Found Slain in Trunk 20 Months Ago. Her Common-Law Husband Was Just Charged in Florida

Speaking to CBS2 in New York, Destini Smothers' father said, "She just was special. She had a good heart"

Destini Smothers
Destini Smothers. Photo: Facebook

Authorities in New York City have charged a Florida man with murdering his common-law wife after her body was found last year in the trunk of a car.

Destini Smothers, 26, was reported missing in November 2020, after leaving a bowling alley in Queens.

The Troy, N.Y., woman travelled to Queens to attend a birthday party.

Months later, in March 2021, New York City sanitation workers discovered her decomposing remains in South Ozone Park.

The body was left in an abandoned Toyota Camry with no plates. The vehicle, police learned, was Smothers' car.

An autopsy showed Smothers died of blunt force trauma to the head that fractured her skull.

NYPD sources tell PEOPLE the father of Smothers' two young sons, 30-year-old Kareem Flake, was extradited to New York this week.

On Wednesday, Flake was formally charged with Smothers' killing, sources confirm. He has yet to plead to the charge.

On the night Smothers vanished, she and Flake had gotten into a heated argument, party attendees told investigators.

Kareem Flake
Kareem Flake.

Early on, detectives identified Flake as a person of interest in Smothers' killing.

The couple were in a common-law marriage, sources confirm.

Flake was arrested in early April in Kissimmee, Fla., on unrelated domestic battery charges.

Sources tell PEOPLE the Florida case involved a different woman.

Online records do not show the adjudication status of that case, or whether Flake has pleaded to those charges.

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Family members spoke to CBS2 in New York after Flake's indictment in connection to Smothers' death.

Loretta "Simone" King, Smothers' mother, said the news opened old wounds.

"It feel fresh today," King said. "It feel like we just found out that she was murdered today. It's just the beginning."

"It brought tears to my eyes," her father, Tony Smothers, told the station. "She just was special. She had a good heart."

A cousin, Tanasha Battle, wants to see justice served.

"I'm happy he's not going to see the light of day again and this won't happen to nobody else's child with him on the streets," Battle said.

PEOPLE was unable to determine if Flake had an attorney who could comment on the allegations for him.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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