A tight-knit Brooklyn neighborhood is in mourning after discovering a local philanthropist was found dead with stab wounds at his home Monday.
The sudden death of the so-called "Mayor of Adelphi Street" Antonio Litman took many in Fort Greene by surprise. "Antonio Litman is the kindest man you’d ever want to meet, always doing something for some one else," one neighbor told NBC 4.
The founder of charity Virginia's House of Hope was found dead in the foyer of his building on Adelphi Street, near Dekalb Avenue, around 3 a.m. Monday morning with a fire around him. FDNY Fire Marshals spent the day searching for any signs of an accelerant. Sources say it appears the fire was intentionally set.
Virginia's House of Hope is a foundation that, since 2006, has distributed school supplies, food, clothing and educational toys to over 10,000 families.
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Neighbors said Litman was the "kindest man you'd ever want to meet," always doing something for someone else. A shipping executive, he provided scholarships to help underprivileged kids explore maritime careers, donated toys to kids in need and made sure public school students had access to music education. "He’s done work in the school system... he's a one of a kind person," a friend told NBC 4.
Litman had owned his home here for nearly 30 years. Friends say he threw the best dinner parties, dressed to the nines and used a fortune gained in shipping to help those who couldn’t help themselves. It was said that, one year, Litman had bought hoverboards for all the kids on the block. "Giving, the most giving person," friend Russell Bullock said. "This ain't right."
Although he lived in New Jersey, Litman spoke to a family member at 11 p.m. Sunday and said he was at the Brooklyn house he owned at Adelphi Street, according to sources.
In the charity's website, Litman shared the vision for Virginia's House of Hope. "I grew up on a farm in South Carolina, and was raised by my family to give to those in our community who were less fortunate. We shared what we grew on our farm with anyone in need. This experience stayed with me even after leaving South Carolina for New York City, although I did not know where to begin," he shared in a letter on the organization's website.
"Charitable work can be very difficult, and I realized that my efforts could have more impact if I reached out to others for help. In order to do so, I took the proverbial leap of faith and founded a non-profit charitable organization called "Virginia’s House of Hope," he wrote.