Stuart Kraft last saw his eldest daughter two weeks ago. They caught up over dinner in Somers Point, a late-summer reunion at one of their favorite New Jersey Shore towns.
"She was her usual self, full of zest," Kraft said Thursday. "She was Christina."
Days later, Christina Carlin-Kraft was found strangled in her Ardmore apartment. On Wednesday, U.S. marshals arrested the man police believe is responsible as he got off a bus at the other end of Pennsylvania.
"We are going to get justice," Kraft said. "Big deal that he's in prison; he's comfortable there."
Jonathan Harris, 30, was arraigned early Thursday in Ardmore District Court after a marathon overnight effort by investigators to bring him back to Montgomery County. He sat in silence, in a blue prison jumpsuit, as District Judge Michael Quinn read him the crimes he's charged with. The most serious, first-degree murder, made him ineligible for bail.
The motive in the slaying remained unclear Thursday. Investigators believe Harris and Carlin-Kraft hadn't met before the night of her death. Kraft could not explain why his daughter went into the city to meet Harris and brought him to her apartment.
Harris will remain in custody in Montgomery County until his preliminary hearing, scheduled for Sept. 10. Harris also faces second- and third-degree murder charges as well as robbery, receiving stolen property, possessing instruments of a crime, and related offenses.
The news of his arrest brought little comfort to Kraft as he sat in his South Jersey home.
"Your oldest child is always your closest, the one you spend the most time with," he said. "She was a big piece of my life."
Kraft and his family buried Christina hours before investigators announced Harris had been arrested at a bus station in Pittsburgh. It was "a shock," he said, to hear about the circumstances of her death, allegedly by a man released from prison in July.
"Someone needs to be held responsible for her death," he said, adding that his family is considering hiring a lawyer to examine the circumstances of Harris' release.
His daughter showed an early interest in modeling, he said. After graduating from Mainland Regional High School in Linwood, she worked as a waitress for a few years in South Jersey — with stints at the Borgata in Atlantic City and Tomatoes in Margate — before relocating to New York City to pursue a modeling career.
"She was the brightest light that ever lived," Kraft said. "She was all that."
She posed for several publications, including Maxim and Playboy. About a year ago, she relocated to the Cambridge Square apartments in Ardmore at the insistence of her boyfriend, Alexander Ciccotelli, according to Kraft.
"He wanted to protect her, to get her away from all the craziness of New York," Kraft said. "And she was fine with the move. She liked where she was living."
In 2016, Carlin-Kraft was charged with assault, attempted assault, and harassment after a Manhattan restaurant manager accused her of attacking him. Those charges were later dismissed.
Ciccotelli could not be reached for comment Thursday. Detectives said Thursday that he has been fully cooperative throughout their investigation.
Ciccotelli first called police on Aug. 22, concerned he hadn't been able to reach Carlin-Kraft for two days. He told them he was unable to enter the apartment where she lived — which he owns — because the deadbolt had been locked. When police forced open the door, they found her dead inside a bedroom, according to a warrant. She had been badly beaten, with black eyes and a broken nose. The cause of her death was ruled "ligature strangulation" by a coroner.
Investigators said surveillance footage shows Harris and Carlin-Kraft meeting in Center City at 2 a.m. on Aug. 22. She had taken a rideshare into the city and was dropped off at Broad and Chestnut Streets, about a block from where she met Harris. The two returned to her apartment about an hour later.
"I just met this sexy-ass white [expletive]," Harris allegedly texted an acquaintance, who helped lead police to him. "I'm at her crib in Ardmore."
Harris left the apartment just after 5 that morning, according to police.
Harris, a Johnstown native, has a history of arrests in western Pennsylvania on charges, including drug offenses and assault. Most of the cases were withdrawn or dismissed. Before his July 15 release from State Correctional Institution Greene, Harris had been serving a three-year sentence for robbery. He had been staying with his sister, who investigators said lives in Southwest Philadelphia.
Police in Lower Merion are still seeking a man in a burglary reported at Carlin-Kraft's apartment days before her death. Andre Melton, 31, is accused of burglarizing her apartment after accompanying her back to Ardmore after a night out in Philadelphia on Aug. 18.