A black-handled knife with a saw-like edge. A sketch of a heavyset man with a beard. Fliers offering more than $60,000 in reward money.
The information is out there, but three days after an attacker stabbed two children in a Brooklyn elevator in an apparently random attack, the killer remained on the loose Wednesday amid growing anger and fear.
Police now say that whoever killed 6-year-old Prince Joshua "PJ" Avitto and critically wounded his friend, 7-year-old Mikayla Capers, on Sunday probably killed 18-year-old Tanaya Copeland in the same neighborhood on Friday night.
"We're dealing with a dangerous assailant here," Assistant Chief Gerald Nelson of the New York Police Department said as he stood outside the public housing project in the East New York section of Brooklyn, where the crimes occurred.
Blue balloons danced in the wind at a makeshift memorial set up outside the building where PJ, who would have turned 7 this month, died, and where Mikayla was stabbed at least 15 times. She remains hospitalized in critical condition. Neighbors and passersby have left candles, toys, and flowers at the memorial.
The neighborhood sees more than its share of crime. The precinct recorded 18 murders last year and has seen six so far this year, according to police statistics.
But the attack on the children was especially horrifying, coming in what should have been the safety of their own apartment building as they went upstairs to get a couple of frozen treats after a hot Sunday afternoon spent playing outside. Residents say the killer, who fled through the lobby, might have been easier to catch if the building had surveillance cameras, and their anger reached Mayor Bill de Blasio.
"It's unacceptable bureaucracy," De Blasio said of the city's failure to install cameras, despite having money budgeted to do so. The money has yet to be spent.
Police released a sketch of a man and photographs of the knife they say was used in the attack on the children: a Dura Edge, which they said has not been manufactured since 2004. They believe the same weapon, or same type of weapon, was used to kill Copeland, who was walking home when she was attacked Friday night.
PJ's father, Nicholas Avitto, says he thinks the sketch shows a homeless man who sometimes slept in the hallway of his building. "I saw that sketch and it dawned on me he was the one I used to give a dollar to," Avitto said, as posters offering $62,000 in reward money went up on trees and posts around the neighborhood.
His son's funeral is to take place Friday.