At 91 and 100, cou­ple was al­ways close – un­til fa­tal home in­va­sion

The Buffalo News - - LOCAL NEWS - By Sarah Maslin Nir and Nate Schweber NEW YORK TIMES

and was taken to a hospi­tal.

The cou­ple was a fix­ture in the small con­crete pa­tio at the foot of their brown­stone, which NEW YORK – Eth­lin Eth­lin Thomp­son had packed Thomp­son loved to tell her with flow­ers and shrubs in neigh­bors the story of the time, makeshift planters to beau­tify about three decades ago, when the stoop. They were Seven­th­day she stood at a Brook­lyn bus stop Adventists. and prayed to God to send her Eth­lin Thomp­son reg­u­larly a man. She was nearly 70. It at­tended Satur­day wor­ship seemed, per­haps, she needed a at Han­son Place Church and mir­a­cle. turned her hus­band into a man

There was a tap on her of faith, neigh­bors said. shoul­der. They had long since re­tired.

It was Wadi­man Thomp­son, Wadi­man Thomp­son had the man she would go on worked as a ma­chin­ist, and his to marry, and from whom she wife was a nurse. They whiled would be­come in­sep­a­ra­ble. away days soak­ing up the sun The two held daily court to­gether and wish­ing bless­ings on any­one in the pot­ted-plant gar­den who walked past the three­story they cre­ated in front of brown­stone. their brown­stone in Brook­lyn’s To­gether, al­ways to­gether. Bedford-Stuyvesant neigh­bor­hood. “All they had was each other,” Un­til this week, that was said Anil Lopez, 34, their where they sat side by side each top-floor ten­ant. To him, they day, giv­ing com­pli­ments and were not land­lords, but “Mom” en­cour­age­ment to passers-by, and “Pops.” To each other, he dur­ing their very golden years. said, they were only “Honey.” He was 91, she 100. Wadi­man Thomp­son was On Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, from Ja­maica, and loved to Eth­lin Thomp­son lost the man spin yarns in front of the build­ing she loved, when in­trud­ers over­pow­ered about his is­land-hop­ping the cou­ple at about 3 days, Lopez said. Ev­ery morn­ing, p.m. and bound them in­side his wife would carry out a their home at 160 De­catur St., chair for her hus­band, said May ac­cord­ing to Deputy Chief Michael Chan­dler, who lived across the Kem­per of the New York street, so he could sit and shake Po­lice Depart­ment. hands with neigh­bors as they

Eth­lin Thomp­son freed her­self left for work. from the re­straints and They had ti­died up at the called 911. build­ing as a team, un­til last

Po­lice of­fi­cers found Wadi­manThomp­sonin­sid­esprawled year, when Wadi­man Thomp­son be­gan to rely heav­ily on a on the floor, still bound. He was cane. So Eth­lin Thomp­son, who pro­nounced dead at In­ter­faith turned 100 on March 8, did the Med­i­cal Cen­ter. sweep­ing.

No ar­rests have been made. “I would see her in the morn­ing The in­ves­ti­ga­tion is con­tin­u­ing, in front of the build­ing, but the po­lice be­lieve that clean­ing,” said Den­nis Jack­son, the mo­tive was rob­bery. a neigh­bor.

“Who­ever did this, it’s evil, Eth­lin Thomp­son was born it’s evil in their heart,” I.C. Ser­a­pio, in Costa Rica and worked there a neigh­bor, said while in as a teacher, ac­cord­ing to a bi­og­ra­phy tears. “They are in their last writ­ten for a church days. It is not fair; you just took cel­e­bra­tion of her birth­day. this man’s life.” In New York City, she ran a

Eth­lin Thomp­son suf­fered group home for men with dis­abil­i­ties mi­nor in­juries, the po­lice said, out of her home, ac­cord­ing to the bi­og­ra­phy. She taught Bi­ble study and helped per­form bap­tisms.

Pho­to­graphs around the Thomp­sons’ home showed her civic in­cli­na­tion. On the wall was one of for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, whom Eth­lin Thomp­son adored, Lopez said.

It was next to pic­tures of her with city of­fi­cials and ac­tivists, recog­ni­tion of her good­ness that her hus­band would of­ten brag about to any­one who would lis­ten, neigh­bors and friends said.

But some­times, the cou­ple had told friends, their open­heart­ed­ness left them feel­ing vul­ner­a­ble.

“A lot of peo­ple pestered her be­cause she’s old,” Lopez said. Peo­ple would try to get one over on her, he said. “A lot of peo­ple banged on the door all through the night – drunks, crack­heads,” Lopez said.

And Eth­lin Thomp­son still kept help­ing those in need, Lopez said. “She doesn’t have that kind of heart to turn peo­ple away,” Lopez said. “She’s just so kind, think­ing peo­ple were there to help her.”

On Wed­nes­day, Eth­lin Thomp­son was sit­ting on her bed next to her hus­band, who was ly­ing awake, putting on her shoes to go out and pay bills, said Mar­garet Babb, a clerk at the Han­son Place Church who vis­ited her in the hospi­tal.

Eth­lin Thomp­son told Babb that she was am­bushed from be­hind and some­one tried to choke and muz­zle her si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

“She said, ‘I fought and I fought, they tied me, they bound my hands, they bound my feet, but even­tu­ally I was able to break free and call 911,’ ” Babb said. “I’m sure they didn’t ex­pect her to be so feisty.”

On Thurs­day, neigh­bors passed by their home and the pot­ted-plant gar­den, where, for what seemed like the first time, the cou­ple was not there.

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