A New York City man was arrested early Thursday morning, accused of smothering his elderly roommate because he thought she snored too loudly, police said.
Enrique Leyva, 47, also served as a caretaker for Veronica Ivins, 92, for the past three years, neighbors in the pair’s SoHo neighborhood told the New York Post. Ivins lived in her rent-controlled apartment for at least 50 years, the neighbors said.
The Post reported that it was Leyva who dialed 911, telling dispatchers he’d killed his roommate. NYPD officers who responded to the call said they found Ivins semi-conscious in her bed.
She was later pronounced dead at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, the Post reported. Citing police sources, the newspaper reported that Leyva admitted he held a pillow over Ivins’ face, then manually strangled her.
Neighbor Brooklyn Lastra told WPIX that Leyva moved in with Ivins when the elderly woman’s daughter was dying of cancer.
“It seemed he kind of weaseled his way into the apartment because she had no one else and didn’t want to be alone,” Lastra told the news station. “When the daughter passed, unfortunately, he stayed permanently.”
The Post reported that neighbors said they noticed Ivins’ normally neat, clean apartment begin to deteriorate to the point that the gas was cut off and mice and roaches began to infest the home. They also told the newspaper they heard Ivins and Leyva arguing loudly and often.
Multiple neighbors said they called the authorities, including Adult Protective Services, to report possible abuse and neglect.
“I called 311, I called APS, and not once, but twice,” Megan Loveland told NBC New York. “Not only did I call, but other people called.”
Lastra described Ivins as an active woman who liked to travel, play bingo and see to her daily activities before Leyva moved in.
“She went from wearing nice clothes and fur coats to wearing oversized T-shirts with holes in them that were covered in stains,” Lastra told the Post.
The distraught neighbor lamented what she saw as a lack of action by authorities.
“You had multiple people in this building who were calling multiple agencies,” Lastra said. “This did not have to happen. She deserved better.”