Naeem Davis, a 30-year-old drifter, has been charged with the murder of 58-year-old Ki-Suk Han. Han was pushed to his death on Monday afternoon, December 3, at the 49th street subway station in midtown Manhattan, crushed by an oncoming Q train.
Davis was apprehended at about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, December 4, when he was spotted by a transit cop who was on a coffee break. After being taken to the Midtown North precinct, Davis was questioned by investigators. Allegedly he implicated himself in the killing through several statements.
Here’s what you need to know about Davis:
1. He’s Homeless
Davis was living on the streets at the time of the arrest. One vendor from the 49th street area, Esran Shanbi, told the New York Post:
He’s homeless. He sleeps in a chair or milk crate or on cardboard on 49th Street. I’ve seen him around for years. He looks shifty; he looks sick. But I’ve never seen him in a fight.
2. He Lived on the Streets from a Young Age
Davis, arrived in the US as a refugee from Sierra Leone according to the New York Post, spent his early time in the US living rough on the streets of South Philadelphia. He was taken into foster care at the age of 7 and diagnosed as suffering from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a mental illness brought on by the high level of alcohol consumption of his mother during pregnancy.
3. He Spent Much of his Childhood in Foster Care
From the age of 7 Davis was sent to live with Jim and Ruth Scialabba of New Brighton, Pennsylvania. The Scialabbas were known for fostering special needs children in the area. In a 1998 profile of the family for local paper The Times, Davis said of his foster mother:
She’s strict, but she’s not mean.”
In return Ruth Scialbabba said she had “a real soft spot for Naeem,” treating him with extra care until he was able to function as part of their growing family. Naeem was a difficult child when he arrived to live with the Scialabbas but formed a bond with a new baby, Israel, who arrived to live with the family when he was 16:
…the night Israel came home [Ruth] found Davis rocking Israel in a living room chair.
4. Davis has an Extensive Rap Sheet
As well as being due in court this week on charges relating to sleeping on a park bench, he has an outstanding charge pending for smoking marijuana in public. Since March 2010 there have been five charges against Davis in New York.
In Pennsylvania, Davis had more serious charges for receiving stolen property, theft from a vehicle, and burglary. In September 2002, Davis was arrested for stealing three laptop computers from police cars, for which he received a year of probation after pleading guilty.
A year later Davis stole a purse from a car that was parked near where he was living at the time in Ohioville, Pennsylvania; for this he received 1-2 years in jail.
In total Davis has 10 charges on his rap sheet, dating to 1999. The police chief of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, Charles Jones, said Davis was known by officers in the area but it was not known that he relocated to New York.
5. He Had Altered his Appearance
Allegedly, Davis had stashed the clothes he was wearing at the time of the subway incident and spent Monday night sleeping in a van, hiding from NYPD. He then shaved off his short dreadlocks trying to disguise his appearance; he was bald-headed when apprehended.
6. He Stayed and Watched his Victim Die
After shoving Han, Davis allegedly remained in the station and watched as the southbound Q train crushed his victim.
7. Davis and Han Argued Before Getting to the Platform
The New York Post reports that Davis and Han bumped into each other on the steps leading down to the station. The argument continued on the platform. Davis allegedly told police:
He wouldn’t leave me alone, so I pushed him. I saw him get hit by the train.”
Though the Daily News contradicts that report:
Davis admitted that he was in the midtown subway station when he and Han bumped into each other on the platform.
8. Davis’ Last Known Address was in Queens
Like his victim, Davis’ last known address was in a working-class neighborhood in Queens. Neighbors say he moved out six months ago. No other address has been listed for him since then. A neighbor who remembered Davis, Charles Dawes, 80, who lives with his son two doors from where Davies stayed, told AP:
[Davis] came and went, came and went, and he always looked serious, but I haven’t seen him for three or four months.”
9. Davis Survived on $20 a Day
Esran Shanbi, the vendor who identified Davis as being homeless, said:
Sometimes, he wants a free hot dog or soda, so I give it to him. He makes about $20 to $40 a day.”
Davis made his living pushing carts for vendors, for $5 or $10, to a garage on 48th Street.
10. Vendors Say Davis Was a Nice Guy
Mama Sarr, another vendor from the Rockefeller Center area, told the New York Post:
I saw his picture today and I said, ‘This guy? I know this guy.’ To me, he was always very nice, he always seemed straight. I never saw him fight or act dangerous.”