New York

Husband in Custody, Cops Suspended in Young Brooklyn Mother's Stairwell Death

Meanwhile, two officers have been suspended as the NYPD investigates the police response to a call for a wellness check at the home

What to Know

  • Neighbors who heard a crying 3-year-old child went to find out what was wrong and found the toddler's 22-year-old mother dead nearby
  • Hours later, the victim's husband Barry Wells was taken into custody in connection with her death
  • Barry Wells has one prior arrest for allegedly assaulting his wife Tonie in September; he was out on $5,000 bail, authorities said

The husband of a 22-year-old woman found dead on the basement steps of her home in Brooklyn after a neighbor responded to the cries of a 3-year-old girl is in custody and charges against him are pending, police said Thursday. 

The suspect, Barry Wells, was apprehended with the help of the New Rochelle Police Department Wednesday evening, about eight hours after Tonie Wells was found dead on the steps of her own Sterling Place home in Crown Heights.

Law enforcement sources say the couple were fighting in the street, and Tonie Wells screamed to a neighbor who was walking a dog to call police. That neighbor, and others nearby, called 911, but when officers arrived the couple was no longer outside.

The officers didn't get out of their patrol car, and though they were given an address for the couple, they didn't knock on the door. They reported no sign of distress. 

Those officers have been suspended as the NYPD investigates how their response to the 911 call. 

"The entire incident, including any potential communication and response issues are being reviewed by the Department," an NYPD spokesman said in a statement.

Barry Wells was initially taken to a hospital after mentioning he had tried to commit suicide, which police say he didn't do, then brought to a precinct, where he remained in custody for much of the day Thursday. Later he was taken to another hospital for a psych evaluation. 

Investigators say his wife Tonie Wells had bruising to the neck and appears to have been pushed down the stairs, though officials are awaiting autopsy results to determine an official cause of death. Authorities say Barry Wells has one prior arrest for allegedly assaulting his wife in September and was out on bail.

Tonie Wells' toddler, who was found near her mother's body, was not hurt.

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