Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A Death in the Neighborhood

Michael and I were enjoying our Labor Day together when we heard the sad news that a 19-year-old college student had been found dead under suspicious circumstances here in Chelsea. When I finally had a chance to read the newspaper report I learned that the victim was Kevin Pravia, an adorable sophomore at Pace University, who was to begin classes on Wednesday. The report said Kevin was last seen getting into a cab in the early hours of the morning on Saturday after a night of partying. He had recently moved into the apartment with a friend from his native Massachusetts, Josephine Madonna, who left town on Friday and returned home on Sunday night and made the gruesome discovery of Kevin's lifeless body on a bed with a cord around his neck and a plastic bag shoved down his throat.

Later Monday evening I went to work (the late shift -- I always put the "labor" in Labor Day) and saw an update on the story that mentioned that his apartment was at 239 W. 15th St. -- just a stone's throw away from where I live. So on my way home -- now after 2 a.m. -- I decided to stop by the building just to pay my respects.

When I arrived I was greeted by a dozen friends of Kevin's, who had set up a loving memorial for their fallen pal, with photos, candles and flowers all over his apartment-building stoop. "He was an amazing guy," the first girl to notice me said. "You would have loved him," another assured me. "He was always smiling!" One by one, through intermittent fits of laughter and tears, they told me the stories behind the photos they'd assembled: "This is when we shaved his legs for that costume he wore! It took like three hours -- he was hairy!" ... "This was from the pancake party we had! That was so much fun! Britney had just made her comeback!" ... "He was sooooo cute! I was in love with him when I first met him -- then I found out he was gay" ... "The cute ones always are."

The love and sense of loss were truly overwhelming. Even though they seemed comfortable with me when I told them I was a blogger, I could tell they were smarting from the sensational press coverage the case has already begun generating. As I was gathering my things to leave one of Kevin's friends turned to me and said: "We just want you to write how much we love him. Can you do that for us?" If it's true that you can judge a person by the company they keep, it's clear to me from his friends that Kevin was a sweet young man with a bright future. My thoughts are with them and all of Kevin's loved ones.

Cops ask that anyone with information on the case call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS or text their tips to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. A Facebook page to show support for the Pravia family has been set up here.

UPDATE: An arrest was made on Tuesday.


Anonymous said...

Nice job, Keith. He sounds like a sweet kid. Thoughts and prayers to the friends & family.

Anonymous said...

Nice job, Kenneth, not Keith. (I haven't had my morning java jolt.)

Mike said...

Christ, when will it ever stop!! More and more I keep seeing stories from across the nation of LGBT people being killed for no reason other than their sexuality. This violence against our people has got to stop!

Anonymous said...

I saw this on the news last night and had a strong feeling he might've been gay. Its so sad. Love and postive energy to all his family and friends...

Anonymous said...

So freaky reading about this story. I went to the same high school as him and live in the same area in western mass. Its scary out there that in 2008 people are still being killed for who they love. My thoughts and prayers to his family during this sad time.

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