CORNING, N.Y. (WETM) – Corning Police Chief Jeffrey Spaulding says that Brenda Lee McKay was let go by Gerald Early in April due concerns being around him during the COVID-19 pandemic, given he was 100-years-old.
McKay is the lone suspect in Early’s murder after he was found on Saturday by his caretaker with multiple wounds after being attacked in his home. An autopsy determined his cause of death to be blunt force trauma.
Spaulding says that McKay was not a “caretaker” in that she didn’t have any specific training or certification, but that she performed household duties and wrote letters for him for nearly a year.
Authorities say that McKay was generally cooperative during the investigation and that she was named a suspect following a neighborhood search and after interviews with Early’s family.
The homes of McKay and Early were both searched by police and developed as crime scenes. McKay lived on the 100 block of Walnut Street near Early’s home on West First Street, according to police.
McKay did not show any signs of intoxication while being questioned by police and has no prior criminal record, according to police. Spaulding says that Corning police have encountered her about 20 times in as many years due to trespass and noise complaints by neighbors.
Steuben County District Attorney Brook Baker could not comment on whether McKay had a history of mental health issues. At this time, investigators do not believe McKay would have any financial gain due to Early’s death, but that is still a part of their investigation, as well as how she entered the home.
Baker says that the maximum penalty for McKay’s second degree murder charge is 25 years to life. Her next court appearance in Corning City Court is on July 28.
Chief Spaulding described Early, a 100-year-old World War II veteran, as an active member of the community who was often seen talking walks and staying in good health.