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Accused Central Harlem Killer Had History of Violence, Neighbors Say

By Jess Wisloski | November 11, 2012 9:55am | Updated on November 11, 2012 2:41pm

EAST HARLEM — A man fatally stabbed his mother, and critically knifed his brother and left them for dead in a burning apartment on Saturday, neighbors and reports said.

Firefighters responded to a blaze in a 10th-floor apartment at East 135th Street and Park Avenue after 4 p.m. Sat., Nov. 10, 2012.

The woman, 55-year-old Ruth Montano, was declared dead on arrival at Harlem Hospital, suffering severe stab wounds to her torso. The other victim, a 32-year-old man whose name was not released, endured many stab wounds to his torso and head, and was clinging to life Saturday night, officials said. Neighbors told DNAinfo.com New York the victims mother and son.

Police had arrested 31-year-old David Elias, of West 103rd Street, who neighbors and reports identified as another son, for allegedly stabbing the victims and then set fire to the apartment, cops said. Police would not confirm the relationship.

Several neighbors told DNAinfo.com that Elias had allegedly been involved in several violent incidents — including at least one prior slashing — at their home prior to the grisly slaying.

A man who lives in the development said he was outside of the downstairs lobby, smoking a cigarette and sipping coffee, when chilling screams broke out floors above him on Saturday.

"I heard a lot of yelling: 'Help! Help!" My brother is trying to kill my mother!"

He said that he had seen Montano and her son and that they were friendly — always smiling — but mainly kept to themselves.

When the man's mother passed away in 2011, he said Montano was the first to leave flowers at the front door of the building.

He was unaware that Montano had another son until a fight broke out between two men at the apartment sometime last year, the man said.

Mirian Garcia, who lives across the hall, said she was awakened by the smoke and screaming.

Garcia, 24, said that she saw Elias at Montano's side, in the staircase landing between the 9th and 10th floors, when she came out of the hall.

She said she ran from the 10th story to the 9th and called for help.

When she returned to the landing, Elias was still with her, and when authorities came to rescue Montano he continued to hang around, covered in blood.

Denise Lucas, who said she has lived across the hall from Montano for many years, said she saw the boys grow up together and that they had always been reserved children, but things had changed in recent years.

Lucas said she called the police on two separate occasions because she heard screams coming from Montano's apartment.

"The last time they fought, he cut his brother up," she said, speaking of Elias.

Elias is facing charges of murder, attempted murder, and arson.