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Neighbors Trying to Rid Block of Woman Who Threatens to Kill Children

By Gustavo Solis | September 15, 2015 9:35am | Updated on September 15, 2015 2:49pm
Hillary Rose
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West 118th Block Association

HARLEM — An emotionally disturbed woman has been threatening children and attacking moms on West 118th Street and fed-up neighbors say authorities have done little to stop her.

Hillary Rose, who lives on the block between Lenox and Seventh avenues, is so erratic and violent that several people have orders of protection against her, residents said.

"She jumped up and hit me in my face the whole time screaming ‘I’m going to kill your daughter, I’m going to kill her,’" neighbor Evon Hekkala said of an encounter with Rose that happened last winter.

After the assault, Rose was arrested and released from a hospital within a couple of weeks. Hekkala got a restraining order against her, which she shared with DNAinfo.

Many residents of 118th Street have a story about Rose. Most say she is mentally unstable and because she is not being treated, her behavior is getting increasingly violent. While some would like to see her locked up, most say she needs medical attention.

"This is not someone who is just a little cuckoo and talking to herself. This is a level way beyond that," said Sally Hard, who lives right next to Rose’s building.

Hard’s first encounter with Rose was one day after she moved onto the block nearly a year ago. She heard the neighbor knocking on the living room window and screaming at her.

"It was pretty bloody scary," she said. "I sort of yelled at her to go away and quickly realized it didn’t matter what I had done, she was in another place. She ran out onto oncoming traffic screaming, she threw herself onto the hood of a car and started cursing at the driver."

Rose’s landlord refuses to kick her out, neighbors said. And whenever she gets in trouble, he bails her out.

The landlord, who only gave his name as Brian, said Rose doesn't have anywhere to go or a family to take care of her. Protecting Rose has lost him a few friends, he said. 

"Some of the people in the block won't talk to me anymore," he said. "She has nowhere else to go."

The neighbors are overreacting, he said, adding that Rose was not available to talk.

Neighbors said they don't think Brian's handling of the situation is enough to solve the problem.

"My question is obviously people have rights, she is a tenant. But does her right trump the rights of people to live peacefully?" asked Hard.

In December, the block association arranged a meeting with Officer Victor Pena, who is in charge of crime prevention in the 28th Precinct, to discuss possible solutions.

The officer told neighbors to establish a paper trail by lodging complaints with the precinct and 311. If Rose made specific threats against individuals, they should get orders of protection so that if she violated them Rose could be arrested, they said he told them.

Residents took the officer’s advice. Chelsea Dunn installed security cameras that captured Rose’s behavior. She became the first person to get an order of protection against Rose, she said.

"Most of the victims are women and children," she said. "She screams about how my baby was not mine and she was going to kill my child."

The DA's Office is aware of Rose's case and is working with the local precinct to find a solution.

"You can't involuntarily commit her," said Chief Assistant District Attorney Karen Friedman Agnifilo. "We are doing everything we can from a criminal justice perspective, but it is not just a criminal justice issue."

Rose's case has been referred to a $22 million citywide program called "NYC Safe," which was set up to deal with mentally ill residents who pose a safety risk. The program, set up and run out of the mayor's office, helps various criminal justice and health organizations share information and resources, according to their website.

Still, residents say the city is not acting fast enough.

Rose was arrested again in the spring for violating an order of protection, Dunn said.

But the case was dismissed after a mental evaluation determined she was not fit to stand trial. She was transferred to a hospital and released in a week, she said.

Hekkala, whose daughter is in therapy because of her encounters with Rose, also had a case against Rose dismissed because of the mental evaluation, she said.

On 118th Street, neighbors have grown frustrated by what they perceive as an unprofessional response from local police. They say officers appear to have grown weary of responding to Rose-related calls.

“As soon as the cops saw her, they start saying ‘Oh, her again,’ and they are all laughing,” Hekkala said. “They show up and think it’s hilarious. We are in fear for our lives and the lives of our children. There is nothing funny about this.”

The 28th Precinct did not respond to questions about Rose or 118th Street.

Several residents have written letters to the District Attorney’s Office asking them to help.

"I have watched her follow a mother with a baby in a stroller screaming, 'I’m going to kill you and your child,’"wrote Jack Llewellyn-Karski.

"The thing that bothers me the most about all of this is that it seems that she could do anything, then claim to be mentally ill and be released as if she has done nothing wrong," he said. "These are criminal activities, regardless of her mental condition."