NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Friends and relatives of Anna and Yelena Bulchenko paid a sad, final farewell to the women Tuesday at Parkside Memorial Chapel in Brooklyn. There were flowers and long embraces in honor of the slain mother and daughter, both victims of stabbing suspect Maksim Gelman’s senseless rage.
“It’s very sad, very sad. I can’t believe it’s happened,” said Jenny Naydenko, Yelena’s friend.
Family and friends remember Yelena Bulchenko as a fun-loving person, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reports
“I knew Anna because she had just moved into my apartment building the month before. And I tell you, she was the most beautiful woman. Very vibrant, vivacious, and personality? Very sunny. She left a deposit with you. If you met her, you’d really be happy,” said Brigitte Ethington, Anna’s friend.
From Friday to Saturday morning, Gelman’s accused of fatally stabbing his own stepfather, Yelena and Anna Bulchenko, and mowing down a 62-year-old fourth person during a carjacking. Several others were left with stab wounds.
He remains in police custody, held without bail. He faces four counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, one count of assault, two counts of robbery and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon.
As he was being escorted into a police car Sunday, Gelman shouted to a gaggle of camera crews he was the victim of a “set-up.”
All of this happened just days before Valentine’s Day and devastated Yelena’s boyfriend. “I had plans to take her to a Korean restaurant in the City. I had flowers delivered to her job. Bought her a necklace. This ain’t right,” said Gerard Honig.
An emotional Honig was the lead pallbearer of Yelena Bulchenko’s casket and could be seen in tears sobbing in the arms of friends.
Like many at the funeral, Vlad Levinovsky knew Gelman and spoke to CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman about him.
“This is outrageous. He had no right to take lives that didn’t belong to him,” Levinovsky said.
One of Yelena’s childhood friends said she will be missed. “She was just a very kind person. It’s a shame it happened to her. It was, nobody expected it. It was a shock. I don’t know how this could happen to somebody like her,”Inna Rudenko, Yelena’s friend.
“She was popular. She was kind. Like she had a smile on her face all the time,” she said. “It’s terrible. I don’t understand how somebody could just let themselves do something like that, and to so many people besides her. It was just an ongoing terror. I think he needs the death sentence.”
Many people are still finding it incomprehensible that one man could allegedly kill so many people. One woman said Anna Bulchenko was a good friend and person. “She loved life, she was a perfect mother, perfect woman, she was a perfect wife,” she said. “I can not imagine that someone could hurt the lives of two people.”
On Monday, investigators described what they called a “drug den” under the Long Island Rail Road tracks along Ocean Avenue. They said it’s the very spot where Gelman spent much of his time in the weeks leading up to the rampage.
Police said the place also contained a shrine to Bulchenko – a graffiti heart and the spray-painted name “Yelena.”
“He was obsessed with the girl for no reason other than his own satisfaction,” Honig said. “She was taken from me by an animal and it’s not right.”
Gelman was assigned a new lawyer, Edward Friedman, who had no comment about the case. Friedman said he expects him to be indicted as early as Friday.
Dave Kuras visited the shrine outside the Sheepshead Bay home where she and her mother were murdered. He said he also knows suspect Gelman from their days at Lincoln High School.
Acquaintances said Gelman smoked a lot of pot in high school and later drifted on to more dangerous drugs.
“Smoking dust, and um, anybody in their right mind wouldn’t do this, had to be drug related,” Kuras said.
Gelman attended but apparently never graduated from Lincoln, and he doesn’t seem to have made much of an impression. People who knew him said he was more interested in skateboarding than scholastics.