74-Year-Old’s Killing Underscores Rise in Attacks on Older New Yorkers

74-Year-Old’s Killing Underscores Rise in Attacks on Older New Yorkers
74-Year-Old’s Killing Underscores Rise in Attacks on Older New Yorkers

Jack Kupferman, head of the Grey Panthers NYC, at his residence in New York, Feb. 6, 2023. (Dana Golan/The New York Instances)

NEW YORK — The 911 name got here simply earlier than 10 p.m. on Jan. 18, a Wednesday. A girl had discovered her sister mendacity face down on the ground of her Higher West Aspect residence, her fingers and ft certain behind her with yellow and black rope.

Police stated the sufferer, Maria Hernandez, 74, who lived in a one-bedroom residence on West 83rd Avenue, had been robbed and strangled. Cops discovered marks on her neck and bruises on her face, arms and again. There have been indicators of extreme sexual abuse.

Inside every week, police arrested Lashawn Mackey, 47, who had been filling in on upkeep on the constructing, and Terrence Moore, 53, a Brooklyn man with a previous conviction for second-degree homicide and theft. Each have pleaded not responsible to prices that embrace homicide, aggravated sexual abuse and housebreaking.

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“That is everyone’s worst nightmare,” stated Jack Kupferman, 67, president of Grey Panthers NYC, a corporation that grew out of a motion to battle ageism.

Violent crimes similar to theft and felony assault in opposition to individuals 65 and older rose by about 10% in 2022 in contrast with 2021, a part of an total surge in main crimes in the town, in accordance with police. The variety of rapes greater than doubled to 17 throughout the identical interval. Circumstances of grand larceny — which embrace monetary scams and bank card fraud — dipped 6% however remained excessive at 3,780 incidents.

Older New Yorkers who’ve learn alarming information tales concerning the spike in crime are fearful, group leaders say. Some had been reluctant to return to senior facilities, which had closed throughout the pandemic. Those that do enterprise out request rides to and from the facilities to keep away from strolling or taking the subway.

Others are signing up for protection courses or are cloistering themselves.

A necessity to seek out extra sources and public security instruments to assist older New Yorkers is happening because the variety of individuals 65 and older has risen. Practically 1 in 6 New Yorkers, or 3.2 million state residents, are 65 and older, in accordance with a 2020 research by Syracuse College. Its researchers additionally discovered that the older grownup inhabitants was rising quicker than another age group in the state.

Within the metropolis, the variety of individuals 65 and older is predicted to leap greater than 40% to 1.4 million by 2040, in accordance with a 2013 research by the town’s division of planning. By comparability, the town’s common inhabitants is meant to develop by 9.5%.

The state and metropolis stated they have been working to assist older New Yorkers really feel much less remoted and empowered to report crimes similar to elder abuse, which stays underreported, in accordance with organizations that work with senior populations.

Town’s Division for the Growing older has began a pilot program with police that connects older crime victims with assist companies. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration is working on a “grasp plan on getting old,” a broad-based effort nonetheless in the early phases. The “security wants of older adults” will probably be “an integral piece” of the plan, Greg Olsen, director of the state’s Workplace for the Growing older, stated in a press release.

The brutal and craven nature of crimes in opposition to people who find themselves extra susceptible as a result of they’re lonely, remoted or much less capable of defend themselves has those that work with older Individuals calling on public officers to outline such incidents in even stronger phrases — as hate crimes.

“If you take a look at who’s getting attacked, it’s typically older individuals,” stated Allison Nickerson, government director of LiveOn NY, an advocacy group for older New Yorkers.

Perpetrators are focusing on a category of individuals “as a result of they’re perceived as having or even have little protection,” she stated.

When police arrived at Hernandez’s residence, they discovered the drawers of her dresser and evening stand open and empty. The closets had been raided.

Prosecutors stated surveillance video confirmed that about 7 p.m., two males walked right into a stairwell with entry to Hernandez’s third-floor residence. It isn’t clear but what was taken, however prosecutors stated the house invasion had been premeditated: Somebody broke into the superintendent’s workplace earlier than the crime was dedicated and dismantled the safety surveillance system.

Police stated surveillance cameras at Mackey’s Brooklyn residence the evening of the killing confirmed him and a second man carrying two of Hernandez’s baggage.

Jessica Horani, a lawyer for Mackey, who was launched from jail in 2021 after serving over 20 years for a stabbing, didn’t reply to messages for remark.

Throughout Mackey’s preliminary arraignment, Horani stated there was no video surveillance that confirmed Mackey on the third ground that evening. Mackey was in his Brooklyn residence together with his girlfriend when the police “violently entered” and took them each into custody.

He has “emphatically” denied the fees, Horani instructed the choose.

Glenn F. Hardy, a lawyer for Moore, stated he “is sustaining his innocence.”

The assault in opposition to Hernandez was an incredibly violent one which got here amid a string of crimes in opposition to older New Yorkers. In February, a 90-year-old shopkeeper in the Village was left bloodied after a person hit him over the pinnacle with a heavy rock.

Final month, a Florida girl, Peaches Stergo, was charged with wire fraud after she was accused of manipulating an 87-year-old Manhattan man into giving her his life financial savings — $2.8 million. Stergo met the person on a web-based relationship website and over 4 /12 years persuaded him to write down 62 checks, some for as a lot as $50,000. She then spent the cash on Rolex watches, a Corvette and a home in a gated group, federal prosecutors stated. The person, a Holocaust survivor, was compelled to surrender his residence.

Final April, an 89-year-old girl was hospitalized with second-degree burns after a girl stormed into her Bronx residence and poured boiling water on her to get her to inform the place she stored her cash.

Older New Yorkers’ fears of such crimes has led them to keep away from senior facilities that had as soon as been teeming with individuals desperate to socialize and at the moment are attempting to lure individuals again via city-sponsored social media campaigns.

Earlier than the pandemic, there have been 300 to 500 individuals coming every day to the 4 facilities run by the Chinese language-American Planning Council, stated Wayne Ho, its president and CEO.

These numbers are at 50% now,” he stated. Folks nonetheless come without spending a dime lunches, however many often pack meals into containers and shortly go away, Ho stated.

Within the Bronx, facilities that used to attract 150 individuals a day now get 70 to 80, stated Katherine Martinez, president and CEO of Neighborhood SHOPP, a Bronx group that runs applications that serve greater than 2,800 older New Yorkers.

“We would like individuals again,” Martinez stated.

She stated the facilities are working with police, hoping to engender belief between officers and older New Yorkers.

Lt. Spiro Papavlasopoulo, commanding officer of the Crime Prevention Division, stated his workplace cooperates with the Division for the Growing older to arrange conferences with older New Yorkers, the place they provide security ideas.

One contains holding an inventory of telephone numbers of utility corporations helpful in order that if somebody knocks on the door claiming to be from the gasoline firm, the resident can shortly name to seek out out whether or not the go to is legit.

“We additionally encourage them to name 911 instantly,” Papavlasopoulo stated. “In case you really feel that one thing isn’t proper, then go together with that intestine feeling.”

Doris Ling-Cohan, 67, has taken security into her personal fingers.

In 2021, Ling-Cohan, a retired New York Supreme Court docket choose, had been in Vietnam for a 12 months and a half. She and her husband had gone there for a four-week trip however bought caught in the nation when the pandemic shut down worldwide journey.

As nations started opening their borders and the couple ready to return residence, Ling-Cohan noticed information concerning the rise in crime in New York and violence in opposition to older Asian individuals in explicit. She stated she puzzled if she ought to keep in Vietnam.

It appeared everybody she knew in New York had a narrative about being attacked — one pal in her 60s stated she was sucker-punched strolling down Mulberry Avenue in decrease Manhattan.

To organize for her return, Ling-Cohan started studying martial arts. Again in New York, she signed up for extra programs — jiu jitsu, praying mantis kung fu, Filipino martial arts and Jeet Kune Do, a self-discipline conceived by Bruce Lee.

She liked how a lot stronger she felt, and her confidence in her capability to defend herself grew.

“I’m clearly not going to search for a battle, however I really feel that I can keep away from one and take somebody out if I’ve to,” Ling-Cohan stated.

Ling-Cohan stated she encourages pals who say they’re too previous to take such programs to assume in a different way about what their our bodies are able to.

“I’m in the most effective form of perhaps not my whole life, however half my life,” she stated.

© 2023 The New York Instances Firm

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