Cops in upstate New York have arrested a convicted murderer for the alleged brutal beating of a 78-year-old grandmother on New Year's Day.
The victim, a mother of nine children, was walking to get her morning coffee at 8:30 a.m. in Syracuse when 42-year-old Willie McKee Jr. reportedly approached her and demanded money.
When the woman refused, McKee launched a brutal assault, punching and kicking her until she was on the ground, where he stomped on her face several times before fleeing, Syracuse police Chief Frank Fowler told reporters at a press conference, according to Syracuse.com.
Neighbors were able to provide a detailed description of McKee, helping police catch up with the Syracuse man two blocks away.
"This person viciously attacked a 78-year-old member of our community, and the public didn't sit idly by and watch this happen and not do their part," Fowler said. "The public has done their part."
The victim was critically injured, according to her son, who spoke to reporters at the press conference but asked not to be identified.
She has several injuries, including internal bleeding in her brain.
"She’s fighting for her life," her son said. "She’s bleeding from her brain, she cannot see, and she’s in very, very bad shape."
Both Syracuse.com and local TV station WSYR reported the victim was in critical condition, while Utica-based WKTV said the victim was placed in a coma.
McKee has a lengthy criminal history that includes a 1990 murder, as well as convictions for burglary, assault and weapons possession, WTKV reported. In the 1990 murder, McKee beat a woman to death with a wooden board after trying to trade drugs for sex in a vacant home.
McKee served 18 years for the 1990 murder after making a deal with prosecutors to provide testimony against two other men who participated in the killing. Those men, Gregory Brown and Carlton Lewis, remain in state prison serving life sentences. McKee served another two years in prison after a 2010 felony conviction for driving while intoxicated and was released in 2012, Syracuse.com reports.
"Would he do this to his own mother? Why would he do this to somebody else's mother and not his own mother?" the victim's daughter, Marchell Casolare, asked, according to WKTV. "He's sick in the head, he should have never been released. My mother didn't deserve what he did to her, and no other person does either."
On Jan. 2, Syracuse police charged McKee with first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary, felonies, as well as misdemeanor possession of stolen property and resisting arrest. He was sent to Onondaga County jail without the option to post bail.
Fowler said he hopes McKee is convicted and given a lengthy prison sentence.
"You're not going to be able to attack a member of our community," he said, "especially an elderly member of our community, and get away with it."