NYPD arrests alleged serial killer in murders of 3 women at Brooklyn NYCHA building for seniors

Myrtle McKenney - Jacolia James -  Juanita Cabarello

L-R: Myrtle McKenney, Jacolia James and Juanita Cabarello (Family handouts)

BROWNSVILLE, Brooklyn — Police arrested an alleged serial killer accused of murdering several women at a Brooklyn NYCHA senior housing complex dating back nearly six years.

The man, identified as 66-year-old Kevin Gavin, was arrested for allegedly killing three women between 2015 and 2021 at NYCHA’s Carter G. Woodson Houses along Powell Street in Brownsville.

Gavin lived in the building and was familiar with the other tenants. He often ran errands for several of them, according to Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison.

Police believe he may have killed the victims because of arguments over money.

Gavin took advantage of his relationship with the woman, District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said.

“I know how devastating these losses have been to the people of Brownsville,” Gonzalez said.

The most recent homicide Gavin was charged in was reported earlier this month.

On Jan. 15, 78-year-old Juanita Cabarello was found dead with a telephone cord wrapped around her neck on the floor of her apartment, police said.

On April 30, 2019, 83-year-old Jacolia James was found by her grandson face down inside her apartment with “highly suspicious injuries” to her head and torso, police said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

About four years earlier, 82-year-old Myrtle McKenney was found by her home health aid laying on the kitchen floor of her Powell Street apartment, unconscious and unresponsive.

McKenney’s death was initially said to be of natural causes, but funeral home workers later found a stab wound in the back of her neck, prompting an investigation.

Gavin had several drug-related prior arrests, officials said.

There was more evidence in the recent homicide that allowed them to link him the previous deaths, officials said.

Prior to the NYPD’s announcement of the arrest, Council Member Inez Barron called on NYCHA to expedite the installation of security cameras.

“What we had asked earlier was that we get security improvements in this development. Security, meaning personnel who are trained and respectful and committed to their jobs,” she told PIX11, “and of course, cameras.”

Barron was joined by the family of Cabarello and James following the announcement of Gavin’s arrest.

Several people at the press conference criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD for the delay in the arrest and called for more resources to be released to assist the community.

James’ grandson, Lamarr Crafton, also spoke at the press conference, said the building needs cameras “now” and needs consistent security.

“The are human beings first and foremost,” he said.

“We don’t know whose grandmother or whose grandfather in this building could be next.”

James’ other grandson Travis James told reporters he grew up in the building his grandmother died in.

He said professional assistance and security needs to be stepped up and instilled.

“We care about the lives of working class people. These are not rich people,” he said.

“We all stand Black and brown wanting our people, our families to be protected.”

Steven Cabarello, son of the 78-year-old woman recently murdered, called on the mayor and NYCHA to do their jobs.

“We want justice, we want action. My mother’s friends, they still live in this building. They need to be protected,” he said. “It’s time to do something. Step up and do your job.”

When asked why they think cameras would have helped in this case since the suspect lived in the building, Barron said if people know there are cameras outside the building people will know they can be recorded.

Cameras in the building’s hallways, stairways and elevators can serve to record people’s actions, she said.

Officials said the building was slated to get 65 more cameras across the complex, but then the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the budget, and additional cameras were not installed.

Watch NYPD’s announcement:

Contributed reporting by PIX11’s Lauren Cook, James Ford and Anthony DiLorenzo.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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