Bronx teen's death ruled a homicide

THE BRONX - The death of a 16-year-old Bronx teen was ruled a homicide Friday, three months after she was reported missing and found dead in Brooklyn.

The medical examiner determined that Tiana Rice was raped and suffered a fatal asthma attack. The teen's body lay unclaimed in a Brooklyn morgue for three months.

Rice's parents say they were initially told by police that that their daughter died of natural causes. However, Shirley Byrd, the victim's mother, says she did not believe it at the time.

"When I called her cell phone, she was saying 'stop, stop,' and there was a lot of scuffling, and the phone shut off," Byrd says.

Rice's parents say they are upset with investigators because they were not notified of their daughter's death for 35 days, although they reported her missing the day her body was discovered in Brooklyn. Later, the victim's parents found her clothes in a garbage can outside an abandoned house in East New York.

"They didn't consider it a crime scene, so this is her crime scene?in the garbage can," Byrd says.

Rice's parents say they do not know what their daughter was doing in Brooklyn after she told them she was dropping off a Christmas present in the Bronx on the night of Dec. 30.

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