Detectives have linked the suspect behind a cold-blooded, deadly stabbing at a West Village park earlier this month to two other recent knife attacks on sleeping men around Manhattan.
“These are senseless acts on defenseless people experiencing homelessness and somebody knows this person,” Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said of the pattern Tuesday. “We need to get this killer off our streets as and as safely as possible.”
Law enforcement sources said the serial stabber struck early on Monday morning, July 11, at Stanley Isaac Playground along the FDR Drive on the Upper East Side.
According to authorities, the assailant approached the 28-year-old man at about 3:30 a.m. that morning as he lay on a park bench and knifed him in the abdomen, then fled to parts unknown.
EMS rushed the victim to Metropolitan Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.
Three days earlier, cops said, the suspect similarly stabbed a 59-year-old man lying on a bench near the corner of Madison Avenue and East 49th Street in Midtown at about 10 p.m. on July 8.
Paramedics rushed the victim to Weill Cornell Medical Center in stable condition.
Following an investigation, police tied both incidents to the perpetrator who fatally knifed a 34-year-old man sleeping on a bench at Hudson River Park back on July 5.
At around 3:09 a.m. that morning, law enforcement sources said, the killer walked up to the sleeping man, displayed a sharp object and plunged it into his upper right abdomen.
Immediately after the attack, authorities noted, the suspect fled the scene on foot; he was later observed on security cameras riding a CitiBike through the area.
Officers from the 6th Precinct responded to the incident. EMS rushed the wounded man to Bellevue Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead; police have not yet released his identity.
The suspect is shown in video footage wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with the words “Innocence Project” written on the front in white text, as well as black pants and black-and-neon yellow or green sneakers.
Sewell held a press conference alongside top NYPD brass Tuesday in desperate plea for help from the public in hopes of identifying the stabber before he strikes again. Police believe the weapon being used is a large kitchen knife which victims describe as feeling like a gut punch. Images of the suspect have been circulated to NYPD officers all over the city, still police are seeking aid from the public to prevent further death.
It’s the second time this year that someone has been targeting homeless New Yorkers with violent, even lethal intent.
Back in March, the NYPD and the Washington, DC Metro Police Department apprehended a suspect behind several shootings of undomiciled men in both cities; one of the New York victims died of their injuries.
With a serial stabber now on the loose, Social Services Commissioner Gary Jenkins said that outreach teams will be connecting with New York’s street dwellers in order to make them aware for the dangerous situation while also attempting to convince them to take shelter.
“We want to make sure that our unhoused individuals know that we have capacity within our shelter system so they can come inside and be safe. I applaud the staff that’s out there each day and night doing this really courageous work,” Jenkins said.
Anyone with information regarding the homicide can call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (for Spanish, dial 888-57-PISTA). You can also submit tips online at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, or on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls and messages are kept confidential.