Onondaga County Undersheriff Warren Darby has announced Steven Pieper, 21, of Coconut Tree Drive, has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the death of 20-year-old Jenni-Lyn Watson.
Watson's body was found in Clay Central Park this morning.
"Our search teams discovered the body of what we believe to be Jenni-Lyn Watson over behind the Clay Central Park," Darby said during a press conference shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday. "The criminal investigation has been ongoing through the last week."
Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said Watson's body is at the county medical examiner's office. Due to other pending cases, an autopsy will likely not be performed until tomorrow morning, Nov. 28.
"It's foolish to speculate cause of death," Fitzpatrick said. "Whatever the cause of death was it wasn't one that precipitated a lot of blood."
Officials said Watson and Pieper dated on and off for approximately 18 months and they understand Watson desired the relationship to end.
According to Fitzpatrick, Watson's parents were aware of the relationship and did "everything appropriate to protect their daughter."
Fitzpatrick said authorities knew very early on Pieper was their prime suspect.
"[He] visited the Watson home on Friday [Nov. 19] morning. We believe he was the last person to see her alive," he said.
According to Fitzpatrick, it appears Watson was not alive when taken from her home on Donegal Way in Liverpool.
She was "dumped like garbage" in the park, he told reporters.
Watson did not have a vehicle available to her the morning of Nov. 19 and police have yet to have eye witnesses come forward saying they saw Pieper's vehicle, a Volkswagen, in the area of Clay Central Park that day.
"The men and women who worked on the case, we knew as much as you can know something, that Jenni-Lyn met with foul play very early on in this case," Fitzpatrick said. "But it's not for us to say that, and we always would hold out hope that she would knock on the door over the weekend and say 'I'm sorry, I did something silly. I took off with a friend. I didn't call you, I'm sorry Mom and Dad.' And that would have made everybody in this room the happiest human beings on the face of the Earth."