Detectives say the 21-year-old suspect attacked as the woman walked on a street near her home.
Reeaz Khan was taken into custody and charged with murder and sex abuse. Police believe the crime against the 92-year-old was sexually motivated.
CBS2's Alice Gainer reported she asked Khan "did you do this" as police walked him out of the police precinct in Ozone Park. Khan told Gainer "No I did not."
A memorial is growing on the sidewalk at 127th Street near Liberty Avenue where Fuertes was found dead after midnight Monday.
"EMS units received a call for an aided female that was laying in the street," said NYPD Deputy Chief Joe Kenny. "Upon arrival, EMS personnel discovered an injured and disoriented 92-year-old woman lying in the snow."
Fuertes, who lives around the corner from where she was found, was out collecting cans. Neighbors, who call her "mom," say she did that for money to buy food to feed the many cats she took care of.
Police said video shows Khan approaching Fuertes from behind and knocking her to the ground, causing trauma to her neck and back. Surveillance video shows a man drag her down the street, out of view of the camera.
"There was some sort of physical contact between the two, between Ms. Fuertes and this unknown male, causing them both to fall to the ground," Kenny said.
Fuertes was taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead. The autopsy, police say, showed injuries demonstrating intentional harm.
"We do have some contusions around her neck, as well as we do see some injuries around her private area," said Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison.
Investigators believe the 92-year-old was strangled.
Thursday, police released very clear surveillance video of the suspect they were looking for, taken after the attack blocks away.
Police sources say the suspect's family tipped off police and he was taken into custody.
Friends in the neighborhood and at local businesses she frequented who were enraged at the crime now feel a small bit of peace as they mourn a woman everyone in the area knew.
"Nice lady, she never bothered nobody," one man said.
"We went over there and light candles last night," said neighbor Anita Sewlall. "I'm so happy this morning, I go and pray, I say, 'Oh thank you God, you answered my prayer this morning, now I feel relieved.'"
"It's an old lady, and she's so nice, quiet, simple. I don't know why he had to do that. It's wickedness, wickedness," neighbor Jean Hiralal added. "We're happy, happy, happy. We're really happy that they caught the person."
"Why did he have to kill her? What did she do to him?" Fuertes' son told CBS2 through a translator. "My mom never hurt anyone. Why did he have to kill her, that degenerate? He's a degenerate. I wish I had him in front of me right now. I wish I could have him in front of me so I could spit in his face."
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