Tandika Wright was charged with killing Lavina Nolley in an arson attack in a public housing apartment in Queens (NYC) during an apparent argument over drugs in 2021.
Wright had already been arrested earlier this year for assault and anti-Asian slurs, the NYPD said yesterday.
Nolley, 49, died in a fire at NYCHA “Queensbridge Houses” in Long Island City on Dec. 9, 2021. Wright (36) allegedly slashed the victim several times before burning the apartment.
Nolley was rushed to Mount Sinai-Queens Hospital, where she died. Police initially thought she had committed suicide, but an autopsy showed someone stabbed her repeatedly before the fire broke out. The cause of death was smoke inhalation.
Neither the victim nor the suspect lived there, but according to neighbors, Nolley was one of many people who frequented it. A police source said it appeared that both women were drug users and that the homicide was related to that, according to the Daily News.
The apartment had been the subject of numerous complaints from neighbors. The victim lived in a nearby hotel-turned-homeless shelter and was known as Sweets.
Wright was arrested Friday and arraigned the next day in Queens Criminal Court on charges of involuntary manslaughter, assault, and arson. She was ordered held without bail.
Wright has an extensive police record and had been arrested in Manhattan in January for aggravated harassment, accused of punching an Asian man, spitting on him, and yelling insults at him. “You people brought the virus here. Your people killed my people. Take the virus away from me,” she allegedly told the victim.
Wright had previously pleaded guilty in May to aggravated harassment and was sentenced to 60 days in jail. She was also charged in January with beating the man with whom she lives. That assault case remains open in Brooklyn court.
All charges are mere accusations, and the persons prosecuted are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
In a similar case in late January, a woman set a fire at a squatter residence that killed one man and left two injured and dozens homeless in the Bronx.
In November, Sugerys Ramirez (40) was burned alive inside an apartment she was squatting in Brooklyn. Two months later, her boyfriend Lashawn Duffie, 28, was arrested as a suspect in the murder.