Authorities say a dispute over a $200 electric bill led to a Brooklyn mother of four being decapitated and dismembered, the body parts then left at different locations across Long Island. If that weren't coldy gruesome enough, police say the alleged murderer actually took a cab to drop of the various pieces of the remains.
The New York Daily News reported July 24 that Leah Cuevas, 42, who was renting out a room in her dead uncle's apartment to a Guyana immigrant Chinelle Latoya Thompson Browne, 27, for $400 per month, killed the woman by brutally hacking off her head after the two got into a heated altercation over $200 that Browne refused to pay Cuevas for electricity Browne complained she wasn't being supplied. She then scattered those remains at several locations on Long Island, including leaving the legs and torso at different spots within a mile of Browne's sister's residence. The body parts were discovered over a three-day period from July 8-10, but the severed head would not be recovered until July 17.
A subsequent report by the Daily News revealed that Cuevas had hired a cab to transport her and a plastic-wrapped suitcase to Brentwood on Long Island. Police have spoken with the cabbie who conveyed Cuevas to her destination.
CBS New York reported that Leah Cuevas was charged with second-degree murder.
One witness heard what authorities now believe were the last words Chinelle Browne ever uttered, according to the Daily News. “No, Leah! What you doing?” she reportedly screamed at her attacker. “Oh, no! Oh, no! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”
Leah Cuevas reported yelled back, "Shut the f**k up!" And then the apartment was quiet.
The witness told detectives: “The scare in (Browne’s) voice was like nothing I ever heard before."
Court documents indicate that the final confrontation was sparked by continuing arguments over rent and utility bills.
Another witness, a neighbor of Browne's, said that the young woman had gotten tired of paying for electricity that was constantly being turned off or not being supplied at all, so she had refused to pay Cuevas, who was renting her the room in the apartment. When Cuevas had demanded the $200, Browne had told her she was using the money to move out.
Court documents also show that Chinelle Browne had accused Cuevas of having sex with a man on the city bus, adding to the animosity between the two women. She had done so in front of Cuevas' husband.
Browne's screams on July 5 was the last time anyone heard her alive. Three days later, the torso and legs were found in Bay Shore, 39 miles from the Brownsville apartment where Chinelle Browne had stayed. The remains were identified as those of Browne from a distinguishing tattoo. The following day, July 9, a severed arm was found at a Hempstead resident. The other arm was recovered the next day on a different street in Hempstead. It would be another week, July 17, before the head was found on yet another street in Hempstead.
Leah Cuevas was ordered held without bail on Thursday by a judge in Central Islip, Long Island. Members of Chinelle Browne's extended family, some who had flown in from Guyana to be at court, cheered the decision.
Dale Browne, Chinelle's husband, said his wife had been in the process of finding an apartment so that her entire family could move to the United States from Guyana.