By Daniel Massey
A longstanding dispute turned deadly Saturday morning when a landlord allegedly hacked his tenant to death before trying to kill himself by drinking a bottle of Drano, police said.
Pakenauth Geer, 55, of 107-59 125th St. in Ozone Park, was in critical condition Monday night in the intensive care unit at Jamaica Hospital, two days after he allegedly killed Jairaji Hanuman, 59, by hacking at her head with an unidentified weapon, 106th Precinct Community Affairs Officer Kenneth Zorn said.
Geer has not yet been arraigned because of his critical condition, but the Queens district attorney’s office said he will be charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon.
Zorn said there was a “longstanding dispute” between Geer and Hanuman, but police had yet to make a determination on what exactly set off the gruesome incident.
Neighbors said Hanuman had been sparring with Geer for the better part of her approximately one-year tenure as a tenant in his illegally converted basement apartment.
“I know that she called the police several times, took the homeowner to court and called the Buildings Department on the homeowner,” said Xiomara Perez, a neighbor who has lived on the quiet, residential block for more than 20 years. “We’ve always been seeing cops next door.”
Perez said Hanuman also accused Geer of stealing money and jewelry from her.
Geer’s Ozone Park home, intended for single-family use, was visited Nov. 13 by a Buildings Department inspector after the department received a complaint about a possible illegal conversion, department spokeswoman Ilyse Fink said. The inspector could not gain entry and posted a notice asking the owner to make an appointment with the department, she said.
Citing confidentiality rules, Fink would not say whether the inspector’s visit was prompted by a complaint from Hanuman.
But she did say the city’s Housing and Preservation Department had visited the home on two prior occasions, citing its owner with violations because the “cellar use changed from storage to apartment with partitions.” The violations were issued Sept. 24 and Oct. 11 and court dates were scheduled for Dec. 4 and Jan. 8, Fink said.
Perez said she was stunned at news of Geer’s alleged crime. She said he was “very neighborly” and would help her mother shovel snow each winter.
“I still can’t believe that he did something like this,” she said. “I just can’t see him going to that extreme and also trying to kill himself.”
Police initially responded to the scene Saturday morning when Geer called 911 after drinking a toxic chemical, Zorn said.
The landlord’s wife, Rosa Geer, returned home and was informed by neighbors that her husband had been rushed to the hospital. Perez then drove Mrs. Geer to the hospital, where she said nurses identified the substance as Drano.
At Jamaica Hospital, around 7 p.m., Geer passed his wife a note saying he had hit Hanuman, Zorn said. “The wife called 911 stating that there’s a woman in the basement unconscious,” he said.
Police arrived at the Ozone Park home for the second time in the day at 7:35 p.m. Officers gained entry to the basement apartment and found Hanuman lying face down on the floor bleeding heavily from the head, Zorn said.
A further search of the house turned up numerous stolen auto parts, resulting in the arrest of Geer’s son, sources said.
The Hanuman murder is the fourth homicide in the confines of the 106th Precinct this year, down from eight at this time last year, Zorn said. The three previous cases have been solved, he said.
“He was very quiet,” neighbor Olympia Torres said of Geer. “He was always sweeping and cleaning in front of the house. I’m shocked to hear of this. This block is normally so quiet.”
Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.