UPDATED Oct. 3, 10:45 a.m.
“If anything happens to me, give this to my mother.”
That’s what an Ozone Park woman allegedly said while providing a neighbor with her wallet, credit cards and personal information just before her ex-lover allegedly came to her home and killed her last week, prosecutors announced on Monday.
Jerome Rivers, 52, was arrested on Saturday, Sept. 30, on charges of murder and criminal contempt for his alleged role in the death of Gia Pender, 49, inside her Centreville Street home.
Sources familiar with the investigation stated that Rivers and Pender may have been in a romantic relationship. Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said that Pender had an active order of protection barring Rivers from contacting her. Nevertheless, Rivers allegedly called her numerous times while being held on Rikers Island for two months.
Last Thursday, Sept. 28, prosecutors said, Rivers contacted Pender by phone and allegedly asked if he could stay with her. A short time later, Pender went to a neighbor and said that “Jerome is coming over.” She then handed her personal effects to the neighbor and instructed that they be given to her mother “if anything happens to me.”
According to the criminal complaint, Rivers allegedly called 911 at 6 a.m. on Sept. 29 and claimed that he heard awoke to a thump and then found Pender on the floor. He further claimed that a 911 operator instructed him to perform CPR, and that he heard a popping sound while performing chest compressions.
EMS units and officers from the 106th Precinct arrived at the home shortly thereafter; Pender was pronounced dead at the scene; an autopsy conducted by the Chief Medical Examiner’s office determined that she died of manual strangulation.
During questioning, Brown said, Rivers allegedly denied killing Pender, but further claimed that she had stolen checks from him, disrespected his mother and had him imprisoned on “trumped up” abuse charges.
According to the Queens District Attorney’s office, Rivers was remanded without bail and ordered to return to court on Oct. 30.
“This was a senseless killing,” Brown said in a statement. “Domestic violence is a plague on our society and must end. The defendant now faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison.”
Pender’s family, meanwhile, is raising money through a GoFundMe account to pay for her funeral. So far, they’ve raised a little more than $1,000 of their $8,000 goal. Click here to donate.