NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A suspect has been arrested in connection with the fatal stabbing of a Staten Island grandmother who police say was killed just steps from her own home.

Police say 27-year-old Dantey Moore faces charges of murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon in the death of 63-year-old Geetha Howie.

Police say despite having no known gang affiliation, Moore has a history of violence and drug use and 34 prior arrests.

Moore denied committing the crime when approached by CBS2’s Reena Roy.

“I didn’t do it,” he said.

Moore’s sister on Tuesday said she sends her condolences to Howie’s family, but claims she too is at a loss.

“I’m sorry I don’t have any comment,” she told CBS2’s Janelle Burrell. When asked if she had any explanation as to what might have happened, she said, “No, I’m sorry.”

A brother of the suspect also told CBS2 off camera from their family home that Moore sometimes smoked angel dust, but he couldn’t tell us if Moore had smoked or been high Monday around the time of the incident.

Relatives say Howie had just left the bank after 2 p.m. Monday when she was confronted by the suspect. It happened near the intersection of Bement Avenue and Bement Court just two blocks from Howie’s home.

 

Neighbor Mark Long was the first person to hear Howie’s screams as she struggled with the suspect, ordering him to stop.

“He didn’t say anything at first,” Long said. “In fact, the only thing he said to me finally was something like she was cheating, she cheated with everyone and I really didn’t understand what that meant.”

Long and others called 911 while trying to keep Moore at the scene until emergency responders arrived.

“I yelled at him to stop and I shouted out to one of the neighbors, ‘call 911,'” said Long. “And we just faced each other and I just tried to talk to him, keep his attention off the woman until police got there.”

 

Relatives believe what may have started as a robbery attempt escalated. Police say Moore repeatedly stabbed Howie in the face and chest.

Police sources say when officers got the scene, Moore was cradling Howie in his arms.

“We got a knock at the door. Police were there saying that she’d been in an altercation and that she was being treated at the hospital and it didn’t look good,” the victim’s son-in-law, Daniel Fazzina, said.

Howie died soon after. Her son-in-law says Howie was adored by her loved ones. Their family had been preparing to travel to Sri Lanka for a relative’s wedding.

“She loved her family. We have a 3-year-old daughter, her granddaughter, who she absolutely loved,” Fazzina said. “They were inseparable. This is a senseless tragedy.”

“She’s a good person,” said family friend Siri Katugampala. “You’re walking on the street and something like this happens. Who would expect some like that? It’s sad.”

Long also suffered a slash on his arm during the struggle and was treated the scene.

“I just wish I could have done more than I did,” he said.

Cops who made the arrest told CBS2 they are very familiar with Moore. This was his 35th arrest. Sources revealed that at least one of those was for assault and 14 since 2000, were for violating an order of protection involving his family as well as his girlfriend and her mother last year. The most recent arrest was in June.

Moore was supposed to be on probation until 2020 with weekly checkups, but sources told CBS2 he has never done any state prison time. He’s expected to be arraigned on Tuesday night.

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