A Cedar Rapids man is now charged with first-degree murder after he allegedly strangled his elderly neighbor.
Jerome Power, 48, is accused of assaulting Doris Bevins, 68, inside her apartment at 1211 Fifth Ave. SE Sunday evening. Police said Power was inside Bevins’ locked apartment when they busted inside, with Bevins unconscious on the floor.
Bevins died Monday at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, police said. She was 68.
“She had the most loving heart,” said Pat Ogden, a friend and neighbor of Bevins. “She was a precious lady.”
According to court documents, the first officers inside the apartment found clothing wrapped around Bevins’ neck.
“When our officers got there and found her in the apartment, they performed CPR and rescue measures to try and save her life,” Capt. Steve O’Konek said. “As part of those measures, they had to remove the clothing from around her neck, leading us to believe that she was strangled.”
Friends said Bevins played bingo at St. Ludmila Catholic Church until she was taken back to her apartment around 9:30 p.m. Sunday. Police said she was on the phone with a friend just before the altercation with Power.
That man told police he heard someone knock on the door, and Bevins put down the phone to answer it. The man called 911 when he heard Bevins scream, police said.
Investigators have not released any details about what they believe happened inside the apartment. O’Konek said all of the “key players” have been interviewed, including Power.
“There are facts that we know that we’re going to share with the jury at trial time,” O’Konek said.
Friends said Bevins was disabled and lived alone with her pet parakeet, “Petey.” She had no immediate family in the area, but instead had “lots of mothers and sisters,” one friend said.
Three people told The Gazette they were aware of friction between Bevins and Power and his girlfriend, who lived together in an upstairs unit. Neighbor CeCe Mahnke said Bevins had complained about the couple being too loud.
“When she gets upset, she’ll let you know,” said Mahnke, 45, of Cedar Rapids. “Then she would call me afterward, to calm her down.”
Power’s girlfriend, Mary Meier, said she didn’t believe Power could hurt anyone, but acknowledged the rocky relationship with Bevins.
“One day she loves us and the next day she hates us,” Meier said.
Don Houghton, who owns the four-unit apartment house where Bevins and Power lived, said Bevins was concerned about others following the rules.
“She always tried to be the one to take care of the apartment and watch out for everything, to make sure there was no hanky-panky,” Houghton said.
Online court records show a lengthy criminal record for Power. He was convicted of first-degree robbery in 1994 after he robbed a woman at knife-point in Waterloo. It was his second felony, after a conviction for second-degree burglary in 1988.
Power has spent much of the last 25 years in prison, according his record from the Department of Corrections.
He remained in the Linn County Jail on Tuesday on $105,000 cash bail.
Cedar Rapids homicides since 2008
Sept. 19, 2010– Doris Bevins, 68, strangled at apartment at 1211 Fifth Ave. SE; neighbor Jerome Power charged with first-degree murder, awaiting trial.
July 6, 2010 – Dustin “Dusty” Davis, 35, punched in fight at 370 15th St. SE; Henry Rogers charged with involuntary manslaughter, awaiting trial.
Jan. 11, 2010 — Kevin Bell, 26, shot at apartment at 113 First Ave. SW; Denem Null, Johven Lee and Gabriel Taylor charged with first-degree murder, awaiting trial.
June 26, 2009— Dominique Mosby, 22, shot outside apartment at 2030 Glass Rd. NE; no arrests.
Feb. 15, 2009 — Matthew Hanson, 29, stabbed at apartment at 814 Third Ave. SW; brother Jason Hanson convicted of voluntary manslaughter and willful injury causing bodily injury.
Aug. 26, 2008 — Jerry Hurt, 46, hit in head with pipe in 200 block of 14th St. SE; Jason Blackcloud convicted of voluntary manslaughter.
June 15, 2008 — Aubrey Young, 35, shot in the street in the 200 block of 16th Street SE; no arrests.
April 15, 2008— Thomas Horvath, 19, shot outside apartment at 4950 16th Ave. SW; Jacovan Bush convicted of first-degree murder.