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Residents Still Living in Fear Six Months after Senior Home Murder

Williams Memorial Residence on West End Avenue and West 95th Street, where 95-year-old resident Peter Lisi was killed in December 2011.
Williams Memorial Residence on West End Avenue and West 95th Street, where 95-year-old resident Peter Lisi was killed in December 2011.
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DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

UPPER WEST SIDE — Nearly six months after a 95-year-old man was beaten and strangled in an Upper West Side senior home, residents there are still living in fear with his killer on the loose and promised security upgrades left unfinished.

Police have yet to charge anyone in the slaying of Peter Lisi, who was found Dec. 23, 2011 in his apartment at the Williams Memorial Residence, a Salvation Army-run senior facility on West End Avenue and West 95th Street.

A Williams Residence employee was arrested when he was discovered with Lisi's MetroCard shortly after the attack. The employee, Wilfred Matthews, told investigators he had found the MetroCard on the street, according to the criminal complaint.

Matthews also said he had been in Lisi's room in the days before Lisi was found dead, but he denied any connection to the killing. Matthews was released from custody after his family posted bail on the stolen MetroCard charge. He was fired from his job at the senior facility.

No other arrests have been made in the case, an NYPD spokesman said last week.

Lisi's family members declined through their attorney to comment.

Recently detectives have been questioning residents in the building, renewing hopes that investigators are close to a breakthrough, people who live at the Williams Residence said.

"We just long for this person to be apprehended," said a resident who knew Lisi. "It breaks our heart that this lovely man was brutally murdered."

Meanwhile, residents said they're also eagerly awaiting security upgrades that Salvation Army officials promised in the wake of Lisi's death.

Residents were told at a meeting in January that peepholes and chain locks would be installed on apartment doors, and hallways would be outfitted with surveillance cameras. But so far only the chain locks have been added, residents said.

Two burglaries since the murder have further rattled nerves, leaving residents feeling "unprotected," one said.

"A lot of people are very, very nervous about it," said the resident, who declined to be named.

"Many people who live here are very elderly and cannot protect themselves in any way. They're very vulnerable. Some of them cannot speak at all and others can barely walk at all."

The resident said he'd like tighter security at Williams Residence, where the front desk is sometimes left unattended, leaving visitors free to wander in.

Officials at Williams Residence could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Lisi, who was known to his Williams Residence neighbors as a highly educated, warm man, left a "large percentage" of his estate to several different charities, said a source familiar with the matter.

Among them was Our Lady of Pompeii Church in the West Village, which Lisi attended faithfully for years.

"Charitable giving had obviously been an important part of his life while he was alive, and he intended to continue that once he was dead," the source said.