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