The landlord-tenant dispute in Queens that turned into a tragic murder-suicide yesterday had been simmering for some time, neighbors reveal. According to neighbors 62-year-old Eulith "Sonny" Reid had been trying to get his basement tenent, 48-year-old mother-of-four Hettie Patterson, to move out for months—going so far as to stop taking her rent. But she refused to leave and Reid's rage apparently boiled to the breaking point yesterday. Police say he bludgeoned her with a machete before using its blade to take his own life. According to Patterson's boyfriend, who saw her at the morgue, "he chopped her! She got chopped in the back of the head and her face."
Patterson wasn't the only tenant he threatened yesterday, either. A teenage boy living in Reid's Jamaica, Queens, building heard the commotion from the second floor and came out in his boxers to find Reid "bloody blade in hand." The landlord reportedly "rushed at the teen, and the boy quickly hopped a fence and called 911 from a neighbor’s home," his mother said.
And this wasn't an isolated incident. On August 29 Reid reportedly knocked on the home-health aide's door to ask when she would be getting her own place. When she didn't know, "He ran upstairs and came back with a knife, but his wife blocked him from coming back down. Then he picked up a building block and said, 'I’m going to drop this on your head!'" according to Patterson's sometimes live-in boyfriend, George Frankson. At the time police arrested both Frankson and Reid on menacing charges, but they were later dropped.
Frankson says that Patterson was ready to move, but just hadn't been able to find a place. Neighbors, however, disagree. Said one, "[Reid] talked to me, telling me how these people are taking advantage of the situation. He took his money out of his pension fund to buy this house a few years ago. And them for those people to come and live off of him, it's just hard."
"He refused to take the rent, he told them take the money and find somewhere else and they would not do it," said another neighbor.
After Reid attacked Patterson, he locked himself in his first floor apartment and used the machete to stab himself in the neck and slit his wrists. Both the landlord and the tenant were declared dead at Jamaica Hospital. "He’s lucky he killed himself," Patterson's boyfriend told reporters last night. "He should have died in prison."