BROOKLYN — A 40-year-old mother neighbors said was suffering from cancer confessed to killing her son in their Bedford-Stuyvesant home Friday night, and then taking pills in an apparent suicide attempt, police said.
After a night in the hospital, Tenika Revell was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, and endangering the welfare of a child, the NYPD said Saturday.
Revell had called 911 at 10:54 p.m. Friday night, and told the operator that she had killed her son, and had just taken pills, police said.
At the woman's 4th-floor apartment at 374 Marcus Garvey Boulevard, police found a 7-year-old boy in his bed, unresponsive and not moving, cops said. Bernard Revell was declared dead at the scene, and had suffered severe trauma to his head, according to police.
Tenika Revell was transported to the hospital in cardiac arrest at 11:13 p.m. according to the FDNY, and spent much of Saturday under observation at Woodhull Hospital.
Revell suffered from cancer, according to several neighbors, and talked openly about seeking treatment for it. But she also had a violent temper, some said, and was prone to unpredictable fits, though many were shocked to hear Bernard might have become a target of her anger.
Maribel Otero, 54, a housekeeper who lived on the same block, said the cancer had made a noticable impact on the Revell.
"She had cancer that was eating her up alive, and she was getting smaller and smaller," said Otero.
Revell lived with her husband, Otero said, and he would complain to Otero about his wife's unpredictable temper when the two saw each other in the laundromat.
"She would tell him 'Do this' and she'd want it done then and there or she'd lose control," said Otero. "When she was sick, her husband [said he] did all the work."
"If she wanted something done, she would go off, and he didn't know what to do with her. It was driving him crazy. She was out of control, he said," said Otero. Despite the issues, she added, "I can't believe she would do something like this."
Raymond Espinal, 56, store manager at Tony's Grocery, near the Revell's home, said she had talked about being in treatment for stomach cancer, and was also constantly buying cigars.
"Sometimes she pulled on her hair. She was smoking too much," he said, adding "No one smokes straight cigars."
Bernard, 7, came in to the store three or four times a week, he said, sometimes to buy a piece of cake, or else balloons to make water bombs with. Other times he just stopped in to say a friendly hello.
"Sometimes he'd come in and his face would look upset, so I'd give him something," like a treat, said Espinal. "I don't know what happened to the boy, he was really nice," he said.
A neighbor who lived down the block said Revell and her family had lived in the area for 2 or 3 years. "You could tell she was a little off sometimes," said Leslie Skinner, 44, a Putnam Avenue resident for 20 years.
"Sometimes she'd be walking down the street talking to herself like she as upset. I used to see her every day taking her son to school at 6:45 a.m.," said Skinner, who has an 8-year-old daughter, and said she thought Revell sent Bernard to a charter school each morning. Despite the public outbursts, she found the allegations surprising.
"She doesn't seem like the type to harm her child. There had to be something dramatic going on with her."
"It's really sad...he had the rest of his life ahead of him," she added.
NYPD vehicles were parked outside the woman's apartment building early Saturday.
Bernard's death appeared to be the third murder-suicide attempt in a week to have resulted in the loss of innocent children.
Just one day earlier, Bronx mom Lisette Bamenga, 29, allegedly killed her two children and tried to take her own life by feeding Lillian, 4 months, and Trevor, 5, a toxic mix of de-icer and juice, before triggering a gas leak in their apartment, and cutting her wrists, in a failed murder-suicide.
On Tuesday, just blocks away in Bed-Stuy, 7-year-old Jaquan Cox and his grandmother, Alma Cox, 51, were found shot dead in their home allegedly by David Sherrod, 44, who was suspected to have been Cox's husband. Police believe Sherrod killed the two before turning the gun on himself.
Outside the Marcus Garvey Boulevard home Saturday morning a member of the NYPD lamented the difficulty of saving children from such crimes.
"You can't predict this sort of thing," he said. "It's not like street violence, warring groups fighting each other."