Tyisha McCoy died over a $100 hairdo.

Tyisha McCoy died over a $100 hairdo.

Stunning reporters and cops alike, a Bronx parolee yesterday admitted ordering the murder of the 13-year-old girl because she refused to pay him for braiding her hair. "The braids were $100. She didn't pay me, so I sent someone there to do it," Kenneth Smith, 24, blurted in response to a Daily News reporter's question outside the 30th Precinct stationhouse in Harlem. Smith, a paroled armed robber who met Tyisha on a teen phone-chat line, said he sent a pal to the girl's Riverside Drive apartment last week.

Smith fingered ex-con Parris France, 22, for strangling the teen and snatching $3,000 of her guardian's jewelry."I did not do the killing myself. But I saw who did it," said Smith, whose dramatic sidewalk confession could help convict him of murder. "He's upstairs [being questioned]." Smith, whose hair was done up in immaculate cornrows, was arraigned on murder and burglary charges along with France. Despite Smith's attempt to shift the blame, prosecutors said he told cops he strangled Tyisha with the shoelace from a boot because he feared she could identify him.

The admissions piled more heartache on the custodial family of the teenager, who was born in jail and was removed from her mother's care two years ago over allegations of neglect. "Pretty sad, isn't it?" said George Thompson, whose mother, Carolyn Thompson, had custody of the girl. "It's a child, for crying out loud." "I'm glad they caught him," added Rhonda Ramseur, Tyisha's mother. Even Smith's sister blasted him, saying news of the crime "ran chills through my body." "I just want [Tyisha's family] to know that someone in Kenny's family cares," said Shirley Evans, 31, a mother of twin girls who said her brother learned how to braid hair in prison. "I am deeply sorry for what happened."

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly branded the slaying a "terrible crime" that cut short a tormented but promising life. "These are two adult males," he said. "This is a 13-year-old girl." Cops say Tyisha, who often dated older men, met Smith on a phone-chat line for teens, and he agreed to braid her hair at her apartment. When Carolyn Thompson, a prominent Harlem community activist, saw the older man, she tossed him out of her apartment. "She walked in on him and said, 'What are you doing with her? She is a little girl,'" a police source said. "Words were exchanged, and he menaces her by saying, 'You have a lot of nice [stuff] in here.'"

Cops said McCoy later let France and Smith into the apartment, where they throttled the girl and Smith looted Thompson's baubles. After McCoy's body was found Thursday, cops quickly tracked down Smith, who was sprung in July 2001 after serving seven years for robbery. Sources said that detectives lifted a fingerprint from Thompson's jewelry box that belonged to France, an ex-con with a record of drug offenses, and that France quickly implicated Smith, who in turn blamed his fellow felon.


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