Former caretaker for 100-year-old WWII veteran charged with his murder

CORNING, N.Y. (WENY/CNN) - Police in New York say a World War II veteran was attacked and killed at his house by his neighbor and former caretaker, who had been let go months earlier due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Brenda McKay, 51, is charged with murder in the second degree after the death of her neighbor, 100-year-old Gerald Early, a World War II veteran. She is accused of attacking Early at his Corning, New York, home and repeatedly hitting him in the head with a hammer.

Police say Early was found unconscious Saturday at his home by one of his caretakers. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy performed Monday determined he died of blunt-force trauma.

After a canvass of the neighborhood and interviews with Early’s family, McKay was named as a suspect. She was arrested and sent to the Steuben County Jail without bail.

Investigators say McKay used to help around Early’s home with tasks such as cleaning and writing letters. She was not a certified caretaker and did not help with any medical issues.

Early reportedly hired her in May 2019, and her employment ended in April over COVID-19 concerns. Due to Early’s age, he and his family wanted to reduce the number of people he would be exposed to during the pandemic.

Police believe McKay acted alone but could not speak on a motive.

Early served as a Merchant Marine for eight years, including during D-Day at age 24 when he was stationed about 150 miles off the beach in Normandy. After his time in the service, Early lived in Corning with his family, where he owned a laundromat and rented apartments. He didn’t retire until he was 97.

McKay is scheduled to appear in court on July 28. Police say she did not have a criminal record before this incident but was “well known” to them. Officers had 20 encounters with McKay over an approximately 20-year period regarding issues, such as verbal confrontations, with neighbors.

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