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Drug link eyed in slay of Yazmeen Williams, Manhattan college grad dumped in garbage

Police take suspect Chad Irish into custody on a stretcher as an angry mob tries to get at him Monday. (Photo by Dean Moses / amNewYork)
Police take suspect Chad Irish into custody on a stretcher as an angry mob tries to get at him Monday. (Photo by Dean Moses / amNewYork)

NYPD detectives are investigating whether an ex-con suspected in the grisly slaying of a 31-year-old woman killed her in a drug dispute, cops and sources said Tuesday, a day after an angry mob targeted the man as authorities took him into custody.

Police charged Chad Irish with concealment of a human corpse after he was identified as the man in a motorized wheelchair allegedly caught on video leaving the body of homeless advocate Yazmeen Williams next to several trash bags outside an apartment building on E. 27th St. near Third Ave. in Kips Bay just before 5 p.m. Friday.

He was also charged with weapons possession and menacing for allegedly flashing a gun at someone hours before cops took him into custody.

People in the neighborhood began to believe Irish had something to do with Williams’ disappearance and confronted him in a park across the street from his building on Monday, NYPD Chief of Detective Joseph Kenny said at a Tuesday news briefing.

“Several people from the neighborhood were quite angry with Mr. Irish over this incident and they surrounded him and he produced a pistol and menaced them,” said Kenny. “He then fled the location back to his apartment, where he was placed under arrest by detectives and patrol.”

Irish, 55, is the main suspect in Williams’ murder. Detectives believe he killed Williams in a dispute over drugs, a high-ranking police source with knowledge of the case said.

“It’s one of the theories we’re looking into,” the source said.

Police believe Williams, who died from a gunshot wound to the head, was killed in Irish’s apartment, according to Kenny.

“She has no drugs in her history,” Kenny said. “But, just from interviewing witnesses and family members, she may have recently began a drug habit.”

Police are investigating the possibility Williams would sometimes stay at Irish’s apartment out of “convenience,” according to Kenny.

“I’m not sure if their relationship was romantic or if was more convenience,” he said. “I’m sure there was some narcotics arrangement involved.”

Police went to Irish’s apartment in the Straus Houses on E. 28th St. around 5 p.m. Monday after someone called 911 claiming they had argued with Irish around 9:30 a.m. that morning. During the heated dispute, Irish allegedly raised his shirt, showing the butt of a firearm, the victim told police.

Yazmeen Williams
Yazmeen Williams

As cops responded and questioned Irish, a crowd started gathering outside, accusing him of having something to do with Yazmeen’s death, police said.

Williams’ family was at the site where her body had been found, tending to a memorial, when they noticed a crowd forming a block-and-a-half away at the Straus Houses.

“We were outside at the memorial and we started seeing people gathering. Like a lot of people. We were like, that was weird,” said Williams’ aunt Nisha Ramirez.

The relatives joined the unruly crowd outside Irish’s building. Another aunt, Zque Ramirez, saw Irish through the window when police brought him down to the lobby and began banging on the glass, demanding they bring him outside, Nisha recalled.

“It was so quiet and so calm and fine (at first),” she said. “People were clapping. We were gonna all chant ‘Justice for Yazzy.’ That was the plan.”

But when Zque saw Irish, all bets were off, Nisha Ramirez recounted.

“She was just banging on the glass, saying, ‘Bring him out!’” she said. “I think people started realizing the pain. The people really pounding on him, those were people in the community. Not our family.”

Nisha Ramirez wanted to get a glimpse of Irish before he was hauled away to jail, she said.

“I just wanted to see what he looked like. Who was this person who took her life?” she said. “It was really great to see that the community cares. The community won’t let people get away with murder.”

“What just happened shows how loved she was,” Zque Ramirez told the Daily News on Monday. “She grew up here.”

“Oh yeah. We beat his a–,” she added.

In a video obtained by The News, police were seen taking Irish into custody Monday, carrying him out of the Straus Houses on a stretcher.

Just outside the building, a mob of angry people waited for him to be brought out. Police and medics opened the door and worked to get the man through the crowd, who jeered and became more and more antagonistic, the video shows.

“F–k you! F–k you!” one woman was heard screaming just before the crowd rushes Irish.

The first responders raced Irish to a waiting ambulance while the crowd followed closely, trying to get their hands on the suspect.

“We know what he did!” a man shouted at a police officer who tried to reason with him. “Don’t f–king touch me!”

Police take a man into custody on a stretcher, as an angry mob tries to get at him, Monday, July 8, 2024, in Manhattan, New York. (Photo by Dean Moses / amNewYork)
Police take suspect Chad Irish into custody on a stretcher as an angry mob tries to get at him Monday. (Photo by Dean Moses / amNewYork)

“He should be lucky that the police got him before that community,” Mayor Adams said Tuesday at a press conference at City Hall. “The criminal justice system should bring justice and closure to the family. When your family goes through something as horrific as this, it really impacts us.”

Adams and Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer confirmed that Williams was about to start a job with the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development this week. She was last seen on June 23, Kenny said.

“It hits home,” Torres-Springer said. “She’s a New Yorker. She was a neighbor. The entire city feels for her. The entire city feels for those who are clearly in pain in that video.”

Adams called Williams’ murder “a horrific case” and “a tragic loss” but noted it remained unclear if Irish pulled the trigger.

“I don’t know if this is the actual killer,” he said. “The investigation is going to determine that, but how inhumane you’re dragging down the block somebody’s daughter?”

Cops took Irish into custody on gun possession and menacing based on the Monday morning victim’s complaint, but have not recovered a gun from Irish or his home.

Detectives were searching the apartment for the firearm Tuesday. If they find it, they hope to match its ballistics to the bullet that killed Williams.

Irish has an extensive criminal history dating back to 1985 for crimes including robbery, assault and drug possession, cops said.

In April 1994, he was charged with attempted murder and arson for trying to blow up his uncle’s Bronx home by dislodging a gas pipe leading to two propane tanks and causing an explosion. He was ultimately convicted of attempted arson and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Before that, he did three years in prison beginning in 1988 after he was convicted of robbery and attempted robbery, according to court documents.

His last unsealed arrest before Monday was in 2009, when he was charged with drug possession, cops said.

Murder victim Yazmeen Williams.
Yazmeen Williams

Williams’ body was discovered after neighbors complained of the smell and called 911.

When cops arrived, they found a large garbage bag under a sidewalk shed on a four-wheel dolly, police said. The bag was with the building’s garbage, set to be picked up by the Department of Sanitation.

Officers cut open the plastic bag and found a blue sleeping bag. As Yazmeen’s remains were discovered inside, a bullet fell out of the back of her head, Kenny said Tuesday.

A memorial for Yazmeen Williams is pictured Monday, July 8, 2024, near where her body was found. (Roni Jacobson for ˵Ӱ)
A memorial for Yazmeen Williams near where her body was found. (Roni Jacobson for ˵Ӱ)

Irish was seen on surveillance video dragging the corpse as he made his way down the street in a motorized wheelchair, cops said.

“He just threw my baby out like garbage,” the victim’s mother, Nicole Williams, told The News on Monday. “This is evil. It’s so evil.”

Williams previously stayed with her grandmother, who lives three and a half blocks from where Yazmeen’s body was discovered.

Also taken into custody with Irish was his dog, Butter, which was set to be transferred from the NYPD’s 13th Precinct to an ASPCA location, police and sources said.

Irish, who made no admission of guilt, remained at the precinct Tuesday evening as police continued to investigate.

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