A crack addict accused of murdering three elderly neighbors in a Brooklyn housing complex last year moved into the building and was able to stay there because of the city’s COVID moratorium that banned evictions.
Kevin Gavin was charged in January with the brutal murders of Myrtle McKinny, 82, Jacolia James, 83, and most recently, Juanita Caballero, 78 – all of whom lived in the Carter G. Woodson Houses in between Brownsville and East New York.
Gavin moved into the building in 2015, sleeping on a mattress on his brother’s floor.
His brother, Leon, had been in the building for years and was affectionately known to the other residents as Music Man because he held parties in the courtyard by hooking up a speaker to his mobility scooter and playing music, according to a feature on the murders by New York Magazine on Tuesday.
When Leon died in April 2020, his brother simply stayed in his apartment. He wasn’t evicted – despite the best efforts of residents who had grown suspicious of him – because of a statewide COVID ban on evictions.
Gavin became known as ‘Point’ because he carried an ice pick. He was lurking around the residents’ apartments, according to their neighbors, had a glass-eye, and sometimes begged for money for drugs.
By April 2020, he had allegedly already killed McKinny (who was found dead in 2015) and Jacolia James (found dead in the building in 2019).
NYPD detectives considered him a suspect at the time but did nothing to follow up leads beyond calling him once or twice.
Kevin Gavin was charged in January with the brutal murders of Myrtle McKinny, 82, Jacolia James, 83, and most recently, Juanita Caballero, 78. They all lived in the Carter G. Woodson Houses in between Brownsville and East New York
The victims and alleged serial killer all lived at Carter G. Woodson Houses in between Brownsville and East New York
He would go on to murder 78-year-old Juanita Caballero, a grandmother who was found dead in her apartment in the same building with a telephone chord wrapped around her neck in January 2021.
Juanita Caballero (pictured) 78, was found dead at her apartment with a telephone cord wrapped around her neck, police said
Gavin was eventually arrested in January this year after Cabellero’s death, despite cops claiming to have been suspicious for him for years.
Al Brust, the detective who was assigned to the case but who no longer works for the NYPD, said he tried to interview Gavin in 2015 McKinny’s death was ruled a homicide, but was told over the phone once he was ‘out of state’.
‘It bothered me that it was basically left open,’ he said.
He then says his team moved on to other cases.
The next murder was in 2019 – nearly four years later. In that case, 83-year-old James was found in her home, lying in the hallway with bruises covering her neck and face.
Her grandson told NY Magazine he was immediately suspicious of Gavin when he saw him weeks earlier
Police say he killed his victims because they hadn’t paid him for handyman jobs in the building.
Gavin is accused of killing 82-year-old neighbor, Myrtle McKenny (left) who was found dead in her apartment in November 2015. Almost four years later, the battered body of Jacolia James, (right) 83, was discovered by her grandson in her home
McKinney, first victim, was found in her kitchen in 2015 lying under a table with bruises around her face, dried blood on her face and on the floor. Her dentures was lying next to her body.
Police ruled it an accident because there was no evidence of foul play but they now believe Kevin murdered her.
It wasn’t until she was being dressed for her funeral that the funeral director discovered a long thin slit on the back of her neck – proof that she had been stabbed – that the cops ruled her death a murder.
But the crime scene had been cleared and there were no other leads.
By 2020, residents wanted him out. His brother had been found dead on the floor of his apartment, though there is no evidence to tie him to that crime.
‘We had our suspicions,’ Diane Johnson said.
Had the moratorium that banned evictions not been in place, the New York City Housing Authority would have been able to evict him once his brother died.
But because it was banned, they had no choice but to leave him there, until his arrest on reasonable grounds.
Gavin was arrested in January and charged with the three murders.
He remains in custody awaiting his next court date. He pleaded not guilty earlier this year.