What to Know
- Authorities have arrested a 66-year-old man in the killings of three elderly women who lived at the same NYCHA building in Brooklyn
- The killings date back to 2015 but the most recent one was Friday; the victims are all between the ages of 78 and 83
- Investigators believe the suspect befriended the women by running errands for them; they are taking his case to a grand jury and looking into whether he may be linked to other homicides as well
Authorities have made an arrest in connection with a series of homicides of elderly women in Brooklyn, including a 78-year-old woman found strangled in her home last week, NYPD officials said Thursday.
The suspect, identified as 66-year-old Kevin Gavin, lived in the same Brownsville public housing building as his three alleged victims, whom he may have befriended by running errands for them, NYPD officials said.
The most recent death in the pattern came Friday, when the son of Juanita Caballero came to spend the weekend with her and found her dead with a phone cord around her neck. It was during the course of that investigation, police say, that detectives linked Cabellero's killing to two other homicides dating back years.
"I'm heartbroken, my mother was brutally murdered, brutally murdered," said her son, Steven Caballero, who added that NYCHA "failed our families."
The first case -- the death of 82-year-old Myrtle McKenny, who was found by a health aide on Nov. 9, 2015 -- initially was thought to be natural causes. Funeral home workers later discovered a stab wound to her neck. There were few leads.
Nearly four years later, 83-year-old Jacolia James, another woman who lived at the Powell Street building, was found dead by her grandson on April 30, 2019. He had seen her alive at 7 p.m. earlier that evening. Four hours later, he found her dead. She had injuries to her face and neck.
At the time, James' friends in the building said they believed police would have known who was responsible for her killing if their building had cameras, which elected officials had pressed NYCHA to install.
Her son, Edward James, vowed not to stop fighting until he got justice for his mother. Police say they're working now to make sure she gets it. Her grandson, Lamarr Crafton, said he hopes Gavin will prosecuted in order for his family and the families of the other victims can "have closure."
The building currently has four cameras, police officials said Thursday. Another was supposed to have been added but that plan was foiled by pandemic-related budget cuts, investigators have said.
"The NYPD has been negligent, negligent, and has not indicated and put the resources into solving these crimes in a timely manner," said NYC Councilwoman Inez Barron, who represents the area where the killings took place.
Police say they are looking into other cases for potential links to Gavin, but have not made additional connections beyond the three women at this point. They said that Gavin had been on their radar, but only recently connected him to all three slayings — which they believe may have been financially motivated, with something having gone wrong in each case. Detectives say he fought with the women after running errands for them.
They are now bringing Gavin's case to a grand jury -- and offered their sincere condolences to the families and communities of the victims.
"My mother loved all these people, best you can do is don't let my mother die in vain. Don't let the James mother die in vain. Don't let the McKinley mother die in vain," said Steven Caballero. "Protect their friends that still live in here. They just want to be safe and secure."
Information on a possible attorney for Gavin wasn't immediately available.