Former Classmate Charged With Murder of Teen Found in Marsh

PHOTO: An Islip man has been charged with the murder of a former high school classmate whose battered body was found in the marsh two years ago.PlayGetty Images/Tetra images RF
WATCH Dead Teen's Best Friend Charged With His Murder

Two years after Kyle Underhill's badly beaten body was found in a marsh near his home in Long Island, N.Y., police have charged his former classmate and friend, Thomas Liming, 21, with murder.

Liming and Underhill were both 18 and had graduated from Islip High School together a few months before Underhill's body was discovered submerged in a creek in Islip on Nov. 19, 2011, just two days after he was reported missing.

Liming was arraigned on a second-degree murder charge Friday morning Liming and is being held on $5 million cash bail or $15 million bond.

Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Janet Albertson told Newsday that the medical examiner's office concluded Underhill was alive when he was submerged in the marsh.

Albertson said he was found covered with a wooden board with two sticks lodged in his mouth and throat and more than a dozen blunt-force wounds to his head and face. She also said Underhill sustained multiple fractured ribs and there was also evidence of "neck compression," causing a fractured bone in the back of his neck.

The Suffolk County District Attorney's Office has not released details about a possible motive for the crime and did not immediately respond to calls from ABC News.

Liming has been at the center of a two-year long police investigation. When Liming's parents were subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury, Liming's lawyer said it became clear he was going to be indicted and so decided to surrender to authorities on Friday.

"Thomas Liming did not commit a crime . . . and when the jury hears all the evidence, Mr. Liming will be found not guilty," defense attorney Joseph Corozzo of Manhattan said in a statement. "There's a lot to this case."

A mutual friend and former classmate of Liming and Underhill said the pair were "like brothers" and it was impossible for him to think that one killed the other.

"They were the best of friends," said Brian Melton, 20, who is a student at Suffolk County Community College, where Liming was also enrolled. "They were like brothers. Kyle and Tom got along famously."

Liming is due back in court on January 3.

The AP contributed to this report.