Chinatown Homeless Murder Suspect Still Awaiting Trial

Posted on: May 16th, 2022 at 5:13 am by

Crime scene in Oct. 2019

More than two years since the horrific murder of four homeless men in Chinatown, the suspect has yet to be held accountable for the crimes.

In the early morning hours of October 5, 2019 Randy Santos stalked, then allegedly bludgeoned to death Cheun Kwok, Anthony Manson, Florencio Moran and Nazario Vasqez-Villegas while asleep on the streets.

In the immediate aftermath of the murders, Santos had been held at Bellevue for observation, but was eventually transferred to Rikers Island. He still awaits trial, yet it appears his legal aid lawyer might be looking to an insanity defense again.

Indeed, mere days after Santos’ last appearance in criminal court, he was released April 22 into the custody of the state hospital for further evaluation.

Many rallies took place in the days following the murders. We heard the usual cries to do more, yet not heeded. Some two-and-a-half years later, little has been done to address the homeless problem in New York, save the reactionary Band-Aid of warehousing homeless into hotels or shelters.

Homelessness affects every ethnicity, and Chinatown had a homeless population that became more visible when the city went into pandemic lockdown April 2020.

Photo: Karlin Chan

There is no one-size-fits-all solution that would address the homeless problem, but a good start could be to vet them according to needs into specialized supportive housing programs; for instance, to treat substance abuse or mental health issues, not lump everyone into a shelter or Safe Haven.

Recent attacks in and around Chinatown perpetrated by homeless individuals with mental health issues have put the community on edge, and even more so for homeless Asians on our streets.

Santos, meanwhile, is scheduled for another hearing at the end of the year.

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