A Brooklyn man has been accused of violently killing three elderly women who lived in the same public housing building as him after earning their trust.
The New York Police Department announced the arrest of Kevin Gavin, 66, of Brownsville on Thursday, charging him with the deaths of three senior citizens from his own housing complex after forensic evidence and witnesses linked him to their murders.
“The impact of these deaths on that particular housing complex and on the Brownsville community can not be overstated,” police said.
One week before Gavin’s arrest, a 78-year-old victim was found dead with a telephone cord around her neck, the Associated Press reports. She has been identified as Juanita Caballero.
Gavin has now been linked by investigators to her murder, as well as to two previous killings in the building: The murders of 82-year-old Myrtle McKinney in 2015 and 83-year-old Jacolia James in 2019, NY1 reports. McKinney was stabbed in the neck with a steak knife while James was strangled and stomped, ABC News reports.
Gavin was known to run errands for residents and elderly neighbors, in particular. He allegedly “took advantage of his relationships with these women, was allowed into their homes and did unspeakable acts of violence against them,” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said at a news conference.
Investigators believe he may have killed the women over money.
The housing complex is operated by The New York City Housing Authority, which relatives of the victims have criticized in the wake of the murders.
"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 Steven Caballero, the victim’s son, according to NY1. "I don’t know what it’s going to take for them to put these cameras in the building."
Residents of the building had apparently been asking for more security following the first murder. While four new security cameras were installed in the lobby of the building in 2020, a plan for 65 additional cameras in the complex was canceled because of apparent budget constraints, the AP reported.
"NYCHA is committed to ensuring the safety and security of our residents. This building currently has a lobby camera, security doors and locks, and a security guard, and we are also working diligently with our city partners to expedite the installation of CCTV cameras,” a spokesperson for the public development corporation said, NY1 reports.
Caballero’s family plans to sue NYCHA over the killing for $25 million for wrongful death and negligence, claiming that Gavin shouldn't have even been in the building, the New York Post reports. As a man with a criminal background, mostly drug arrests, he does not fit the criteria for becoming a resident, according to a lawyer representing Caballero’s family.
“You’re not allowed to live in an NYCHA building with a criminal record,” attorney Adam Deutsch told the New York Post. “He should never have been in the building, irrespective of the clear lack of security. […] Clearly, when there [are] multiple murders you can’t just sit back and wait, you have to do something affirmative.”
It’s not clear if Gavin has a lawyer. He is being held without bond.
He has allegedly admitted to the murders, however. Gavin became a suspect in connection with the first two murders in 2020 but police said there wasn't enough evidence to arrest him at the time.
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