Photo via GoFundme
The families of three Brooklyn elderly women who were slain by their neighbor are struggling to come to grips with what happened.
In early January, 78-year old Juanita Caballero was found dead in her public housing unit, strangled to death with the cord of a telephone.
To the residents of the Carter G. Woodson senior housing project, Caballero’s death didn’t seem like a coincidence. It was the third suspicious death that had occured in the complex since 2015.
In 2015, an 82-year-old woman named Myrtle McKinney was found dead in her apartment. At first, authorities assumed that she died of natural causes. It was only when her autopsy report turned up a stab wound in her neck that they suspected foul play.
83-year-old Jacolia James body was found in her apartment in 2019 by her grandson. It was immediately evident that James did not die of natural causes. Authorities revealed that she had “injuries to her face and neck which were highly suspicious”. It was later determined that the elderly woman was strangled and stomped to death.
Through a combination of forensic evidence and witness accounts, police identified 66-year-old Kevin Gavin as the person responsible for the three murders.
Gavin was a fellow resident of the Carter G. Woodson housing project. He was known around the complex as someone who you could depend on to do you a favor.
“I am confident the defendant took advantage of his relationship with these women, was allowed into their homes, and did unspeakable acts of violence against them,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez during a press conference.
In other words, Kevin Gavin e gained the trust of these elderly women by acting the part of the friendly neighbor–helping them out around their homes and running errands for them. But in the end, he murdered them in cold blood.
At the moment, police believe that disputes over money was the motive for his killings.
Whatever the motive, the families of these three women are distraught.
“All who knew my mother would know she didn’t deserve to have her life ended in such a horrific way,” said Juanita Caballero’s son, Peter, on a GoFundMe page he created to help with the funeral costs.
Peter Caballero also expressed frustration at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) for not taking action to prevent further deaths sooner.
After the death of Jacolia James in 2019, the NYCHA installed four security cameras in the building’s lobby last year. But plans for an extra 65 security cameras throughout the building were nixed due to budget constraints.
According to the Cabellero’s family attorney, Gavin’s criminal record should have also prevented him from being a resident of the community in the first place.
“You’re not allowed to live in an NYCHA building with a criminal record,” said the Caballero’s lawyer to the New York Post. “He should never have been in the building, irrespective of the clear lack of security.”
“NYCHA failed our families. They failed the McKinney family. They failed the James family. They failed my mother. They had time to do something,” said Juanita’s other son, Steven Caballero to NY1. “I don’t know what it’s going to take for them to put these cameras in the building.”
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