NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Disturbing new details are emerging about the 92-year-old woman allegedly choked and smother by her much younger roommate in SoHo.
Watch: Veronica Ivins Sings
Veronica Ivins, 92, often sang at Our Lady of Pompeii Senior Center in the West Village.
Friends and family say the fun-loving senior was preyed upon for her finances and then killed by Enrique Leyva, 47, in her Sullivan Street apartment.
Police say Leyva choked her and used a pillow to smother her. A police source said he was angry about her snoring.
“This was extremely avoidable. We all saw a bad thing coming, we tried to prevent it for two years,” said Brooklyn Lastra, a neighbor.
Neighbors say the suspect moved in with Ivins a few years ago. He had dated another tenant in the building and got to know Ivins. Her nephew told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner he tried to warn her that the roommate and his friend were after her money, but she thought they could be trusted, and that he was helping her.
“Three years ago I saw her daughter passed away, and she was in a vulnerable position,” said neighbor Meghan Loveland.
That’s when Leyva moved in, and a man named Christopher, who is allegedly the suspect’s boyfriend.
Neighbors say her behavior changed drastically.
“She would go out and make sure she looked nice, make sure she looked put together. We realized she was starting to walk around in raggedy shirts and sometimes with feces or dirt on them,” said Lastra. “There’s roaches, mice, she hasn’t had working gas in over two years. No stove. She doesn’t use her tub because the ceiling is collapsing.”
Clothes could be seen on top of the stove inside the apartment.
Neighbors say fighting could be heard through the walls between the two men.
“And things were being heard that were violent,” Lastra said. “Furniture breaking, glass breaking.”
Neighbors told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner Ivins lived there for roughly 50 years, and her so-called roommates may have been trying to inherit her rent controlled apartment.
“They used to come over for dinner parties with what I thought was her adopted son, Enrique,” one neighbor told Rozner.
Neighbors said they called authorities to come in multiple times. Social services wouldn’t confirm that.
Police sources say officers went there, but Ivins made no complaint.