UPDATE: Suspect identified, reward offered in Pelham Gardens killing

2026-21 Homicide 49 Pct photos of male
The man suspected of killing 91-year-old Nicholo Rappa on Aug. 3, 2021.
Courtesy of NYPD

Photos and video have been released of the man the NYPD believes killed a 91-year-old man in the quiet community of Pelham Gardens last week.

On Aug. 5, the NYPD announced a combined reward of as much as $10,000 for information pertaining to the incident. The reward is up to $3,500 payable by CrimeStoppers upon arrest and indictment and $6,500 payable by the NYPD upon arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for this incident.

On Aug. 3, at 12:30 p.m., police received a 911 call of a robbery at 2400 Wickham Ave. Upon arrival, they discovered Nicholo Rappa tied up by extension cords with head and face trauma. Rappa was unconscious and pronounced dead at the scene, according to police.

Barry Maynard, who lives across the street at 2405 Wickham Ave., was one of the first to find Rappa in his home. Maynard arrived home and immediately saw Rappa’s downstairs tenant signaling him to come over. The tenant proceeded to tell Maynard that Rappa had been robbed.

“I’m looking like where is Nick?” Maynard said.

The tenant believed Rappa was in the garage, so he and Maynard went through the home in order to access the garage.

The truck driven by the suspect wanted in connection with the killing of an elderly Pelham Gardens homeowner.

Immediately, Maynard went into shock.

“I saw him,” he said. “He had his hands and legs tied with towels over his face.”

They rolled him over and began to call his name to no response; he was dead. According to Maynard, it looked like the damage to Rappa came from the towels.

“The way he was tied, in my mind, it looked like somebody knew how to tie,” he said.

Community Board 11 member John Johnson lived next door to Rappa for years and his daughter and in-laws still reside there today. Johnson could not believe the news.

Johnson said Rappa was more than just his neighbor. Rappa was at his wedding in 1998 and his daughter Serena’s christening.

“My kids grew up with him,” he said to the Bronx Times. “Nick is known throughout the neighborhood.”

Rappa, a retired construction worker, had a tomato garden and used to give vegetables to people who lived on the block, Johnson said, adding that no one expects this in Pelham Gardens.

“Both of my kids are crying,” he said.

Serena, 16, said she was downstairs with her grandparents and brother, but didn’t hear any suspicious noises. She only became aware of the situation when she noticed cops outside. Serena knew Rappa her entire life and talked with him often. Although she said he was assaulted in front of his home six months ago, she can’t believe someone would take his life.

“Nothing like this has ever happened,” she said.

The investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made, according to police.

The NYPD has idenitifed a suspect and he is described as a light-skinned adult male, approximately in 30’s, thin build and last seen wearing a reflective traffic vest, dark pants with reflective strips, yellow hard hat and hard sneakers.

Anyone with information in regard to the whereabouts of this individual is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or on Twitter @NYPDTips.

Reach Jason Cohen at jcohen@schnepsmedia.com or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter @bxtimes and Facebook @bxtimes. 

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