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Woodside slay suspect in jail

NYPD Capt. Donald Powers (r.), the 108th Precinct commander, speaks at a town hall in Woodside while City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer looks on. Photo by Rebecca Henely
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Capt. Donald Powers, commanding officer of the 108th Precinct, said at a town hall meeting last week that a man suspected of killing a Berkeley Co-Op Towers Section II resident last year was recently extradited to New York from Boston.

Raymond Epps, 55, of Boston, was arrested by the NYPD Feb. 9 and charged in the murder of 62-year-old Wayne Graves, who was found dead with trauma to his head in the bathtub of his apartment, at 52-40 39th Drive in Woodside, an NYPD spokesman said.

In addition to being charged with murder, Epps was charged with robbery, grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, the spokesman said.

Powers said Epps was being held in Boston on other crimes and was brought back to New York.

The Oct. 19, 2011, crime was one of two homicides to occur in the 108th Precinct last year. The other occurred a few days later, when a 21-year-old woman was shot in the head in a house on the Woodside-Maspeth border Oct. 24 and later died.

Elijah Stamateris, 22, a resident of the house, was arrested and charged.

Powers went over these crimes and others in the 108th Precinct at a town hall hosted by City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) Feb. 15. The 108th Precinct encompasses Woodside, Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Maspeth, but the meeting was held in Woodside in response to residents’ complaints that the precinct had not been responsive in their neighborhood.

“What’s really important to me is that everyone here gets to tell their own experience,” Van Bramer said.

Powers, who has been commander of the precinct since June 2010, said while certain areas do feel there is not enough of a police presence, 17 percent of the arrests in the 108th precinct last year took place in the Woodside neighborhood.

“If I had to pick one area where crime happens, it’s Woodside,” Powers said.

The captain also talked about crime patterns. He said burglaries tend to happen in patterns and that the cops tend to follow up with the burglars after they are out of prison to discourage them from stealing again. He also said most grand larcenies involve identity theft rather than purse-snatching, although thefts of electronic devices on the subway is increasingly common.

He encouraged residents to be mindful of themselves on the subway and on dark streets.

“When you’re riding the train, they’re watching you the whole time,” he said.

Resident concerns included car vandalism in Sunnyside Gardens, complaints of kids hanging out at night in Windmuller Park, groups of men using the public playground bathrooms and graffiti.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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