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Police: Charges ‘imminent’ in couple’s stabbing deaths

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Updated: August 13, 2014 6:08AM



Neighbors of an elderly couple who were found stabbed to death, one at a hospital in Merrillville and the other at home in Gary early Friday, remembered James and Margrine Haywood as “like family.”

“All of us are in a state of shock,” said Harold West, one of the victims’ neighbors in the 1500 block of Hovey Street who was watching the scene unfold.

A suspect who police say was “familiar” with the victims was arrested in the 3800 block of Carolina Street in Gary. Police did not reveal the relationship between the suspect and the victims.

The suspect was interviewed and held at Lake County Jail pending “imminent” charges from the prosecutor’s office, according to a news release from the Merrillville Police Department.

Police responded about 12:25 a.m. at Methodist Hospitals Southlake Campus, 8701 Broadway in Merrillville, authorities said.

Margrine Haywood, 80, who was a patient at the hospital, was stabbed to death, Merrillville Police Department Chief of Detectives Robert Wiley told reporters.

The hospital was locked down for nearly six hours while police investigated.

During the investigation, police went to the woman’s home in the 1500 block of Hovey Street in Gary and found James Haywood, 88, dead, said Gary Chief of Police Wade Ingram. Ingram described the man’s death as homicide.

The Lake County coroner’s office said both died of multiple stab wounds.

Margrine Haywood was pronounced dead at 1:50 a.m.; James Haywood was pronounced dead at 4:40 a.m.

News crews lined the quiet, well-kept dead-end street off 15th Avenue. Neighbors gathered on the steps of West’s home directly across the street from the Haywoods, fielding questions from reporters and phone calls from family and friends concerned for their safety.

West said his daughter called him at 3 a.m. to see if he was OK. The group began to gather and watched when the Lake County coroner removed James Haywood from the home in a body bag on a stretcher.

“It’s a great neighborhood. We’re like family here,” West said. By midmorning a couple neighbors were working in the Haywoods’ yard to quickly freshen up the landscaping.

“It’s just what we do,” said West, president of the neighborhood block club.

Laverne Avery, the block club’s vice president, said the news was “unbelievable, just devastating.” The recent retiree has lived on the block since 1969 and has known the Haywoods since she was a teenager.

“It’s very strange sitting here and seeing their curtains closed,” Avery said. When Margrine Haywood was home, the front curtains were open and the couple could be seen about the house.

“He took very good care of her,” she said. “We thought she was coming home from the hospital (tomorrow).”

West said the Haywoods had two sons, Walter and Rodney, who would come by the home. He did not know if there were other children. One of the sons would often look after the elderly couple, who lived alone.

Margrine Haywood, who neighbors said had been in poor health for a while, was taken to the hospital July 4.

James Griffin, another neighbor, said he had known James Haywood for years. He said Haywood was a longtime employee of the Gary Housing Authority before retiring.

Neighbor Clifford Avery said the news of James Haywood’s death was shocking. The group said they had heard early on there were two victims and knew Haywood was home alone, so they were initially unsure who else was killed. When they learned Margrine Haywood was stabbed to death in the hospital they were devastated.

“It just breaks my heart to know somebody would kill the momma like that. ... They should rot in hell,” Clifford said.

“That’s what got me,” Griffin added.

The group said the neighborhood of mostly retirees has been mostly free of crime. They say they do not fear for their safety at home because police said the crime was not random. They said they are concerned about safety at the hospital and are shocked something like this could happen.

“Maybe they need to look at their procedures,” West said.

Contributing: Sun-Times Media



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