Brenda McKay

Suspect who beat 100-year-old war veteran in the head with hammer was an assistant, upset she was let go: Police

A New York woman accused of beating a World War II veteran with a hammer, causing fatal injuries, may have reacted in fury after she lost her job as his assistant.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, 51-year-old Brenda Lee McKay has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of 100-year-old Gerald C. Early. Early served as a Merchant Marine from April 1942 until the mid-1950s and was present on D-Day.

Authorities said the incident happened in Corning, at Early’s home on June 6. First responders found the man inside his residence, unconscious from blows to the head. McKay allegedly struck the victim several times with a hammer.

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First responders rushed Early to the to Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, where he was pronounced dead.

According to court documents, McKay was let go in April after concerns that Early could contract coronavirus, known to be potentially fatal to elderly people.

“(McKay) did odd things around the household,” Corning City Police Chief Jeff Spaulding told the Star-Gazette. “She cleaned, wrote letters and things like that. He was a 100-year-old man. He didn’t see very well and he needed assistance here and there.”

Spaulding emphasized that the suspect was not Early’s caretaker, but more so someone who “would help him accomplish different tasks.” He added that family members of the victim likely didn’t McKay was upset since she was let because of coronavirus, not because of wrongdoing.

“She was not a close family relative or anything like that,” Spaulding said. “So the family was minimizing who got to go see him. But no one mentioned she was upset to be let go.”

Police said McKay had no previous criminal record but she was well-known to authorities.

“She would have issues with neighbors regarding trespassing, she had issues where she would be loud, she would have verbal confrontations — but nothing that elevated into the criminal level where she was arrested,” Spaulding said.

Spaulding added that authorities have no reason to believe McKay was drunk or under the influence of drugs when the attack occurred.

A little bit about Mr. Gerald Early, who we've spoken with for multiple stories before — including on his 100th birthday.

Posted by The Leader on Monday, June 8, 2020


The Leader interviewed Early in March, shortly before the celebration of his 100th birthday. Prior to his death, Early told the outlet he was grateful for his “good fortune.”

“I am overwhelmed with my good fortune…The day just makes me think about all the events and experiences I had in WWII; a lot to remember.”

After his stint in the military, Early opened up “the first coin-operated laundry in Steuben County,” The Leader reports. He also managed numerous rental properties until the age of 97.

Early was the beloved father of three children, including Jocelyn Niebur, Craig Early, and Stewart Early.

Check back for updates.

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[Feature Photo: Brenda McKay/Corning PD]