Man allegedly strangles estranged girlfriend day after being freed from Rikers

OZONE PARK, Queens — A 52-year-old Brooklyn man allegedly strangled his estranged girlfriend just one day after he was released from Rikers, officials said.

Jerome Rivers was released from Rikers Thursday and called Gia Pender, 49, to see if he could stay with her, a spokesperson for the Queens District Attorney’s office said. She had an order of protection out against Rivers and he was not supposed to contact her.

Pender, concerned, went to a neighbor. She gave the neighbor her wallet, credit cards, pin numbers and her identification

“Jerome is coming over,” she told him, according to court documents. “If anything happens to me, give this to my mother.”

Rivers called 911 around 6 a.m. on Friday, officials said. He said he found Pender on the floor.

He allegedly told police he didn’t have a reason to kill Pender, but he also told them Pender had stolen checks intended for him and that she had disrespected his mother. He also said she had him locked up on trumped up domestic abuse charges.

“Domestic violence is a plague in our society and must end,” Queens DA Richard Brown said.

The Medical Examiner’s Office determined Pender’s cause of death was manual strangulation. Police arrested Rivers late Saturday.

He was arraigned Sunday and charged with murder and criminal contempt. Rivers faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.