What to Know
- Authorities arrested a 66-year-old man in the killings of three elderly women who lived at the same NYCHA building in Brooklyn — and another family believes he may have been responsible for their father's death as well
- The killings date back to 2015 but the most recent one was Friday; the victims are all between the ages of 78 and 83; he admitted to killing the women in court Friday, and has not been charged in or formally connected to the man's death
- Investigators believe the suspect befriended the women by running errands for them; they are taking his case to a grand jury and looking into whether he may be linked to other homicides as well
The alleged serial killer who was arrested Thursday in connection with a series of homicides of elderly women in Brooklyn, including a 78-year-old woman found strangled in her home last week, may be tied to a fourth slaying as well, one family believes.
The suspect, 66-year-old Kevin Gavin, lived in the same Brownsville public housing building as three alleged victims, whom he may have befriended by running errands for them, NYPD officials said. He has been charged in each of their deaths.
But on Friday, the family of an elderly man who died in 2019 said that Gavin may be responsible for that death as well. Hector Higgins was said to have died of heart problems, but his daughter Carol Dortch wasn't, and still isn't, convinced.
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"They also said blunt trauma to the chest and broken ribs. That's what the medical examiner said," Dortch told NBC New York.
She says she warned her father to be careful after unexplained deaths occurred in the Woodson Houses in Brownville. A few months later, he died.
"I just want justice for my father. When I see this here, I knew," Dortch said, wondering if Gavin could be responsible for her dad's death. "I think they need to reopen his case. That's what they need to do."
Police say they are looking into into the possibility of Gavin's involvement in other matters. They said that Gavin had been on their radar, but only recently connected him to all three slayings — which they believe may have been financially motivated, with something having gone wrong in each case. Detectives say he fought with the women after running errands for them.
In court on Friday, the Brooklyn district attorney said Gavin confessed to killing the three women.
The most recent death Gavin is accused of came Jan. 15, when the son of Juanita Caballero came to spend the weekend with her and found her dead with a phone cord around her neck. It was during the course of that investigation, police say, that detectives linked Cabellero's killing to two other homicides dating back years.
"I'm heartbroken, my mother was brutally murdered, brutally murdered," said her son, Steven Caballero, who added that NYCHA "failed our families."
The first case -- the death of 82-year-old Myrtle McKenny, who was found by a health aide on Nov. 9, 2015 -- initially was thought to be natural causes, similar to Higgins. Funeral home workers later discovered a stab wound to her neck. There were few leads.
Nearly four years later, 83-year-old Jacolia James, another woman who lived at the Powell Street building, was found dead by her grandson on April 30, 2019. He had seen her alive at 7 p.m. earlier that evening. Four hours later, he found her dead. She had injuries to her face and neck.
At the time, James' friends in the building said they believed police would have known who was responsible for her killing if their building had cameras, which elected officials had pressed NYCHA to install.
Her son, Edward James, vowed not to stop fighting until he got justice for his mother. Police say they're working now to make sure she gets it. Her grandson, Lamarr Crafton, said he hopes Gavin will prosecuted in order for his family and the families of the other victims can "have closure."
The building currently has four cameras, police officials said Thursday. Another was supposed to have been added but that plan was foiled by pandemic-related budget cuts, investigators have said.
"The NYPD has been negligent, negligent, and has not indicated and put the resources into solving these crimes in a timely manner," said NYC Councilwoman Inez Barron, who represents the area where the killings took place.
Gavin is next scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 27.