Alleged NYCHA Serial Killer Nabbed

selective focus of chalk outline and evidence markers at crime scene
Image from 123RF

Police made an arrest of a suspected serial killer in NYCHA’s Carter G. Woodson Houses senior housing complex at 393 Powell Street in Brownsville today, Thursday, January 21.

Kevin Gavin, a 66-year old male lived in the same building as the three elderly female victims. He was connected to the murders based on forensic evidence, said Chief Rodney K. Harrison. 

Gavin has been arrested and charged with three counts of Murder in the 2nd Degree. Harrison said that Gavin ran errands for the victims and it’s believed he argued with them over money before enacting violence on them. Harrison said Gavin’s current occupation was unknown and he has prior drug-related arrests.

DCPI Spokesperson Sergeant Edward Riley gave details of the circumstances surrounding the women’s deaths between 2015 and 2021.

On Sunday afternoon, November 11, 2015, 82-year-old Myrtle McKinney was discovered by her home health aide unconscious and unresponsive. She was initially thought to have died of natural causes when puncture wounds were found on the back of her neck later on, indicating foul play.  

NYCHA’s Woodson Houses. Photo from Googl;e maps.

According to Assemblymember Latrice Walker’s office (D-Brownsville), individual family members were questioning the cause of deaths and residents of Woodson Houses were equally upset about the murders. 

On Tuesday, April 30, 2019, close to midnight, police responded to a 911 call for an unconscious female in apartment 11C at Woodson Houses. Upon arrival, officers discovered an unconscious and unresponsive 83-year-old female with head trauma laying face down on the floor who had been found by her grandson. The victim was later identified as Jacolia James.

Because of forensic evidence Gavin was then named a suspect in James’ death.

On September 2019, said Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuel (D-Bedford-Stuyvesant, Ocean Hill-Brownsville, East Flatbush, Crown Heights), they called a joint NYCHA and public safety hearing in response to the glaring security issues and lack of cameras, especially in senior housing. Samuel said she recalls that on Sept 3, 2019, there was also a “suspicious” death of an elderly man on the fourth floor, not to mention the slew of deaths of seniors that were COVID-related last year that should probably be looked into.

On Friday, January 15, 2021, around 5 p.m, 78-year-old female Juanita Caballero was found by her son unconscious and unresponsive laying on the floor in the hallway of her apartment 6A with a cord around her neck.

A law enforcement source said Gavin had tried to use Caballero’s credit card when he was apprehended by officers in the 73rd Precinct, and has since made “incriminating statements” while in custody. 

“My office worked very hard with the New York City police department to bring us to the point where we could announce today the suspect. I’m going to impanel the grand jury to have the grand jury hear all the evidence in this case. I’m confident upon hearing the evidence the grand jury will charge and indict the defendant,” said District Attorney Eric Gonzalez in today’s press conference

“But I wanted to be here because I wanted the community to know that I know how devastating these losses have been to the people of Brownsville, the residents of those houses that these women who were beloved mothers and grandmothers. The fear that’s existed in the Woodson Houses regarding what’s happening there. I’m very proud we were able to make this announcement today,” added Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said he was confident that Gavin took advantage of the victims and his close relationships with them and that they have the right person in custody.

“It’s not just the cameras,” said Samuel about the current safety plan. “There should be security guards 24/7 in senior housing, this is about crime prevention.”