For New York Magazine’s October 11-24, 2021 issue, writer Greg Donahue reports on an alarming series of murders that took place at the Carter G. Woodson Houses in Brownsville over the course of five years. In investigating the murders of Myrtle McKinney, Jacolia James, and Juanita Caballero, Donahue uncovered a pattern of neglect from the New York Police Department and the New York City Housing Authority that had catastrophic consequences for Woodson residents, leaving tenants of the building to safeguard their homes on their own.
When Donahue first heard about the murders at the Woodson Houses, he was shocked by the brutality of the crimes. “I wanted to know how,” he says. “What were the circumstances by which a serial killer could live in such close proximity to his victims for years without being caught?” As Donahue dug deeper, he realized just how vulnerable residents of the Woodson Houses had become. “It was something they already knew, of course, and as it turned out many had been lobbying for years to get both the NYPD and NYCHA to do something about the situation,” says Donahue. “Their resilience in the face of such harrowing circumstances was maybe the biggest surprise of all.”