NEW YORK (AP) — An elderly woman killed Monday in her New York City apartment was visited by police earlier in the evening over a disturbance involving her son, who is now charged in her death.
The building’s superintendent said police were called after the man threatened 77-year-old Marie Louis with a kitchen knife, but police have said there was no threat at that time.
Police said the initial 911 call to the Brooklyn apartment building pertained to an unrelated verbal dispute the son, 36-year-old Arnel Henry, was having with the super and was not criminal in nature.
Louis was found dead around 10 p.m. with trauma to the head, police said.
Henry was taken into custody on a murder charge and transported to a hospital for treatment and observation, police said. He remained there Tuesday.
It wasn’t immediately known if Henry had a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.
The building superintendent, Enrique Rodriguez, said police were initially called because Henry was sharpening a knife and making the woman nervous.
Rodriguez said officers told her there was nothing they could do because he wasn’t harming anyone.
“They left,” Rodriguez said. “15-20 minutes, boom. He already kill her. I’m here 20 years, never had any problems in this building. It’s unbelievable.”
Ashley Cleek, a radio reporter and producer who lives a floor above Louis, said Henry lived with Louis and has had a history of mental illness.
Cleek said Louis and the superintendent called police around 9 p.m. to report the kitchen knife threat.
Relaying what the superintendent told her of the exchange, Cleek said responding officers downplayed Louis’ fears and told her Henry “could have been using the knife to chop vegetables.”
“A few hours later, my neighbor was dead,” Cleek said, sharing part of her account on Twitter. “If the police has taken her fear seriously, I have no doubt she would be alive today.”
Police said Cleek’s tweets were not accurate and that there was “absolutely no criminality” involved in the disturbance that led to their initial response.
They said officers didn’t find anyone in distress and that everyone appeared to be acting normally.
Cleek said the superintendent showed her video footage of an earlier dispute between Henry and the building’s doorman, around 7:30 or 8 p.m.
She said she her tweets about the events leading to Louis’ death were based primarily on what the superintendent told her about the later disturbance, adding: “I don't see why he would make that up.”
“I went up in the elevator with her at 8:15 / 8:25ish,” Cleek said. “And then, according to the super, she came back down — around 9 — and asked to call 911 because her son threatened her.”
Cleek said Louis was a staple in their Kensington neighborhood. She was sweet, warm and spoke with a Caribbean accent.
Cleek called her death an “absolute tragedy.”
Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak