CHINATOWN — The building where two women were found shot to death following a fire last week has a reputation for illegal activities such as prostitution, police sources said.
The building at 83 Henry St., where two women were found shot in the head Friday after firefighters responded to the burning structure, has been known to host activities like prostitution and gambling, police and local advocates said.
The victims, 71-year-old Xiao Ling Li and 36-year-old Yong Hua Chen, both died from gunshot wounds to the head, authorities told the New York Post.
Eddie Chiu, of neighborhood organization the Lin Sing Association, identified Li as a member of the 112-year association and also explained that the address where she was found dead had a history of hosting questionable activities.
"There is a lot of business there," said Chiu, a volunteer advisor for Lin Sing, who is assisting Li's family with funeral arrangements after they identified her body on Sunday.
Valentine Rodriguez, who takes out the trash at 83 Henry St., said he didn't know the women or how many people lived in the apartment where the fire occurred.
"There could be one [person] one day and 10 there the next," he said.
Police sources at the Fifth Precinct confirmed that the building's alleged illegal activities are part of their investigation into the crime.
Li worked as a paid babysitter for Chen's two children, and also assisted with cooking, Chiu said. The women were also friends, he noted.
Li is a legal resident of the U.S., according to the association's membership records. She became a member of the association in January, but had been using its services for about three years, according to Chiu.
Neither woman had a criminal record, the Post reported.
The Lin Sing Association advocates for New York's Chinese community by translating documents and assisting with social services. Membership to the organization, located on Mott Street, is $5 per year.
More than 60 firefighters responded to the blaze on Friday morning, and witnesses said they saw emergency workers administer CPR and try to revive one of the victims, a woman whose clothes appeared to have burned off in pieces, they said.
It was only discovered after the blaze that the two women had been shot.
The fire was contained within 20 minutes, FDNY officials said.