This is the teen girl allegedly stabbed to death Saturday in Long Branch
LONG BRANCH — Police have identified the girl they say was stabbed to death late Saturday night by a man she knew.
On Monday afternoon, police released the name of the girl: 16-year-old Madison Wells. Bryan Cordero-Castro, 20, has been charged with killing her.
Long Branch schools superintendent Michael Salvatore sent a letter to the community about the "passing of an amazing young woman who attended Long Branch High School."
"The school and extended community of Long Branch has been deeply affected by this tragedy, and our sincere condolences go out to her family and friends," Salvatore said in the letter. "We must stand together to support one another, and provide love to our children, as they express their emotions during this difficult time."
Salvatore said grief counselors will be available at Long Branch High School to help the community through Wells' tragic death.
Family friend Alexa Teresa told New Jersey 101.5 that Wells was "one hell of a force," adding that she had "seen tragedy before her eyes, and yet lived every day with a smile."
"She was funny, she was beautiful, and she was kind," she said. "She had it all."
Wells' cousin, Jilly Frijoles, told NJ.com that Wells had moved back to New Jersey a few years ago after the death of her mother. Frijoles said in a Facebook post that she had never met Wells, but said she was encouraged by all the people rallying around the young girl.
"Your life here was cut too short. You left your impression with so many people, even with me," she said.
This is not the first tragedy the Long Branch school community has had to deal with this year. The year started when 16-year-old Scott Kologi was charged with shooting and killing three relatives and a family friend on New Year's Eve.
Cordero-Castro has been charged with first-degree murder, third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and third-degree attempted escape, according to the prosecutor's office. He is scheduled for an initial court appearance on Thursday at 9 a.m.
Authorities say he knew Wells, but have not said how. The stabbing allegedly happened at a home that wasn't Wells' on Van Pelt Place.
If convicted, Cordero-Castro faces a minimum of 30 years in prison on the murder charge and would have to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence before being eligible for parole. He could also be sentenced to as much as life in prison without parole.
Authorities have also said he is from Guatemala and living in the country illegally.
The prosecutor's office is encouraging anyone with information about the case to call Detective Wayne Raynor at 800-533-7443 or Long Branch Detective Joseph Spitale at 732-222-1000.
New Jersey 101.5 did not know as of Thursday afternoon whether Cordero-Castro had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.