Behind the Killings of Homeless Men, Portraits of 3 Lives Derailed

Sometimes he stayed at his great-aunt’s in Washington. Sometimes he lived on the street. “He would get new phones like people would change socks,” his father said.

In 2019, facing an assault charge, Mr. Brevard was found incompetent to stand trial and was sent for “competency restoration” to St. Elizabeths Hospital, a psychiatric center where Mr. Holmes had also spent time. He was discharged after a week, despite his father’s pleas that he be admitted for longer treatment.

Mr. Brevard’s father said he had later tried to get his son admitted to a different clinic, Washington Hospital Center, but was told that “he’s an adult, and I can’t have him committed.”

He added, “He didn’t want to be committed, but he wasn’t in his right mind.”

Mr. Brevard was released from his most recent jail stretch last July, just before he turned 30. A while later, he got a job at City Winery DC, an upscale restaurant and concert venue on the block behind the New York Avenue Men’s Emergency Shelter, where he was staying.

Another shelter resident, who gave his name only as Anthony, 50, knew Mr. Brevard by sight. One night this month, Anthony said, he and a friend were drinking in the alley behind the shelter, two blocks from Mr. Holmes’s tent, when they saw a man who looked like Mr. Brevard walk through, twice in a short span of time, with his face covered. “I said to myself, ‘Why is he covered up like that?’” Anthony said.

Later, he heard gunshots. Mr. Holmes’s burned body was discovered the next morning. Two days after that, prosecutors said, Mr. Brevard headed to New York.

‘Where he died — that’s his home’

In the polyglot open-air market in Lower Manhattan where Chinatown merges with SoHo and the streets bustle with tourists and hawkers of handbags and watches, Abdoulaye Coulibaly was as familiar as he was mysterious.


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