The NYPD on Wednesday announced the arrest of a Brooklyn man who they say stabbed a 61-year-old autistic man to death in the Bronx last week after the victim apparently touched the perpetrator’s backpack.
Gregory Hightower, 31, of Bay 11th Street, was arrested at approximately 3:35 p.m. on Jan. 10 and charged with murder in connection with the fatal stabbing of 61-year-old Tyrone Padilla, of Creston Avenue in Fordham Heights.
According to authorities, Padilla had only just returned from a family outing in Puerto Rico when he was brutally stabbed at 1:30 a.m. inside of an apartment lobby located on Creston Avenue and East 184st Street on Friday, Jan. 5.
Police from the 46th Precinct found Padilla bleeding heavily after he was stabbed in the back and neck. He was rushed to Saint Barnabas hospital by EMS, where he was pronounced dead at 1:57 a.m., according to authorities.
After scouring video footage, investigators managed to track Padilla’s movements leading up to the deadly incident. The victim returned from Puerto Rico on Jan. 4 at 9 p.m. Police say he didn’t leave his home again until about 1:10 a.m., when he took his dog for a walk. During this time investigators say nothing out of the ordinary occurred until he again left his apartment at 1:21 a.m.
It isn’t clear what lead to the stabbing. However, Padilla has been involved in several arguments with locals in the past, largely because he has a tendency to pick up random objects and carry them around, said NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny. The behavior stems from autism and OCD.
“As part of our victim’s autistic tendencies, he has a habit of picking things up off the ground. At one point we have a video of him carrying a chair. He’s known to just pick up trash up in front of the building. This possibly could be that he picked up this person’s backpack by accident, which resulted in a confrontation,” Kenny said.
The alleged killer fled to the Fordham Road Downtown D line where he hopped the turnstile. He was not carrying the backpack.
Cops found what they described as a dagger at the scene of the stabbing. Investigators believe it belonged to the victim since it did not have any blood on it.
Padilla himself does not have criminal record and police say neighbors are aware of his tendency to pick up objects, leading detectives to believe the attacker may be someone new to the area.
A police spokesperson on Thursday morning could not provide the Bronx Times details regarding the circumstances that led to Hightower’s arrest. He does not have any prior charges on his record, the spokesperson said.
Additional reporting by Dean Moses.
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