Man neighbors say was becoming ‘a zombie’ allegedly strangles 92-year-old roommate

NEW YORK — A 92-year-old New York City woman died after her roommate allegedly strangled her and smothered her with a pillow Thursday morning because she was snoring, police sources told WPIX.

Veronica Ivins lived with Enrique Leyva, a 47-year-old man who is not related to her, in an apartment on Sullivan Street in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood, sources said. He called 911 just before 7 a.m. to report himself, saying he snapped.

“I killed my roommate because I can’t take it anymore," he allegedly said, according to police sources.

When officers rushed in, they found her barely breathing on the floor.

She was rushed to the hospital in critical condition where she died hours later.

Police have arrested Leyva and charged him with murder.

He moved in with Ivins when her daughter was dying of cancer, neighbor Brooklyn Lastra said.

"It seemed he kind of weaseled his way into the apartment because she had no one else and didn't want to be alone," she said. "When the daughter passed, unfortunately, he stayed — permanently."

There was a history of problems between the roommates, Lastra said.

"We would hear fighting, breaking furniture, glass, screaming back and forth," she said.

Leyva changed visibly over his time as Ivin's roommate, Lastra said. He stopped shaving and let his hair grow long.

"He seemed to be turning into a zombie," Lastra said. "He was deteriorating visibly. It was obvious. He ended up ... just snapping."

She and others in the building knew things were heading in a negative direction. Lastra voiced her concerns to the Adult Protective Services agency.

"We saw these things coming," she said. "Her condition was just worsening."

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