By Ben Fractenberg
HARLEM — The man accused of stabbing 82-year-old Mazie Garris multiple times in her Harlem home on Monday was described by the victim's neighbors as a man struggling with drug addiction.
Larry Brown, 57, often hung around the West 139th Street building that Garris owned with her husband, Boatman Garris, 85, neighbors said. Brown was described as a homeless man who often did chores around the neighborhood in exchange for cash or food.
Mazie Garris "would bring him in and give him food," said Kate Lewis, 68, who has lived on the block and known the family for 46 years.
"He's their nephew; that makes it worse," Lewis added.
Police are searching for Brown in connection to Monday's brutal attack, in which he allegedly knocked on Garris' apartment door and demanded money before slashing his elderly aunt and fleeing.
One neighbor said he spotted Brown near the Garris family's Strivers Row brownstone building the Friday before the attack, looking unhinged.
"He looked crazy," said Priestly Canty, 71, who has lived on the block for 14 years. "He looked like he needed a fix."
A 57-year-old man who has lived in the area his entire life, and who would only give his first name, Al, said he often saw Larry around the neighborhood.
"He would be out here begging, looking scruffy," Al said.
Neighbors said the elderly couple would often hire Brown to do odd jobs around the house like shoveling snow and painting.
The residents described Boatman Garris as a fixture in the community who is always looking to help others.
“He's an icon of the neighborhood," said Al, who went on to express his disbelief about the incident.
"To do that to you're own family, what's wrong with you?" he said. "You don't prey on elderly people."
Mazie Garris was in stable condition at Harlem Hospital Tuesday, according to neighbors who had spoken with the family.
Brown was last seen wearing black pants and a black t-shirt, and is described as 5-foot-7-inches and weighing 170 pounds.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or text their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.