Police officials were called to the Washington Heights neighbourhood just before 3am local time, when they discovered Edena Hines bleeding on the sidewalk after suffering multiple knife wounds to the torso.

She was admitted to a nearby hospital, where the aspiring actress was subsequently pronounced dead.

A 30-year-old male suspect was arrested at the scene of the crime.

Freeman, who took Hines as his date to the 2005 Golden Globe Awards, has paid tribute to the 33 year old, who was the granddaughter of the actor's first wife, Jeanette Adair Bradshaw.

In a statement to Gossip Cop, The Shawshank Redemption star writes, "The world will never know her artistry in talent, and how much she had to offer. Her friends and family were fortunate enough to have known what she meant as a person. Her star will continue to shine bright in our hearts, thoughts and prayers. May she rest in peace."

Hines' death emerges three years after Freeman famously slammed reports suggesting they were romantically involved amid false claims they were preparing to wed, blasting the allegations as "defamatory fabrications".

The 78 year old was married to Adair Bradshaw from 1967 to 1979. His second marriage, to Myrna Colley-Lee, ended in 2010 after 26 years.