Donations have flooded an online memorial campaign for a Rutgers University graduate who prosecutors say was murdered in her New York City apartment.

As of Monday, more than $175,000 had been raised for a number of charitable causes to honor the legacy of Christina Yuna Lee.

Lee, a Korean American who graduated Rutgers in 2008 as a Livingston College student, was stabbed to death very early Feb. 13, after a man followed her inside her Chrystie Street apartment, according to the New York Police Department.

The GoFundMe organized out of Union County, by Angela Yujin Lee, outlined recipients of funds so far as Prospect Park Alliance, Womankind (New York Asian Women’s Center), Planned Parenthood, Elizabeth Street Garden and SafeWalks.

“Christina’s death has shaken us to our core. Please consider taking part in this collective effort to honor Christina’s memory and to help prevent this tragedy from happening to anyone else. Nothing will give her back to us. But with your help, we can make the 35 years she spent on Earth mean something for generations to come,” according to the campaign summary.

Funeral services for the 35-year-old Lee were held Friday at St. Michael's Catholic Church in Palisades Park.

Suspect’s criminal history

Accused killer Assamad Nash, 25, has been charged with Lee’s murder after he allegedly followed her into her building and attacked her, according to reports citing a complaint filed by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, which says there is surveillance video showing the moments before the attack.

Nash — most recently living at a Bowery men's shelter — has an "extensive" criminal history in New Jersey, as reported by multiple news outlets, in addition to three open cases in New York City.

The New York Daily News reported that 18 prior arrests in New Jersey included charges of robbery, carjacking and burglary.

Out of Essex County, court records have someone by that name and same birth year with at least two convictions — for burglary in 2017 and drug possession with intent to distribute (heroin) after a May 2016 incident.

According to New York court records, Nash had been arrested on Jan. 6 for an incident a month earlier involving intentional damage to property.

Back in late September, he was charged with assault and aggravated harassment.

And five days before that, he faced a misdemeanor for the unauthorized sale of a fare card.

Concerns over anti-Asian violence

Many people have voiced concern that Lee’s killing is part of a pattern of brutal violence against Asian-Americans, even though authorities have not said whether bias played a role as a potential motive.

Among those voicing the fresh grief among Asian communities were U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J. 3rd District, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

"This is the definition of horrific," Adams said in a tweet. "NYPD is investigating this incident and we stand with our Asian community today.The suspect is in custody, but the conditions that created him remain. The mission of this administration is clear: We won’t let this violence go unchecked."

The NYPD has not said that Lee’s killing was a hate crime.

The department also has not made such a determination in the Jan. 15 murder of 40-year-old Michelle Go, also of Asian descent, who was fatally pushed in front of a subway train in Times Square by a 61-year-old homeless man.

Last year, there were at least 131 bias crimes targeting Asian victims in New York City, according to NYPD data. Those incidents resulted in 58 arrests.

The spike in violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) was 361% between 2020 and 2021, as reported by BuzzFeedNews, citing the NYPD.

A vigil on Feb. 14 outside of Lee's apartment building drew members of several community groups, including an organizer with the Coalition of Asian Americans for Civil Rights.

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at erin.vogt@townsquaremedia.com

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