Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Capture of Serial Killer Arohn Kee


Wanted poster
Wanted poster

Police distributed a wanted poster that included a sketch of the serial attacker, based upon descriptions from the rape victims. A few days after the flier went up in East Harlem, a telephone tipster suggested detectives should take a close look at a young man known as "Ace" who lived on the 19th floor of Paola Illera's building. Cops soon established Ace's real name: Arohn Kee. And the name rang a bell.

Arohn Kee
Arohn Kee

Before she was killed in 1991, young Paola had been seen entering the elevator at a same time as a young man. Detectives had talked to the man back then, and he gave his name as Arohn Warford. He admitted that he had ridden up in the elevator with the girl on the afternoon she was murdered. But he said he got off at the 19th floor, and Paola had continued up. That was the last police saw of Arohn Warford.

But the unique first name surfaced again, in the investigation of Johalis Castro's murder six years later. Telephone records revealed that in the days before she was killed Johalis had exchanged dozens of phone calls with a man named Arohn Kee. Police spoke with Kee, who said Johalis Castro had been a friend of his girlfriend, Jacqueline. He explained the flurry of phone calls by saying the two women had been planning a shopping trip on the day she was killed. Police interviewed the girlfriend, who confirmed Kee's account.

Only later did police realize that Arohn Warford and Arohn Kee were the same man. Warford was his father's surname; Kee his mother's. Arohn Kee had links to two of the three victims of a suspected serial killer. He was the last person known to have seen the first victim alive, and he was linked to an extensive phone dialogue with second victim in the days before she died. The coincidence was extraordinary.

But if Arohn Kee was a serial rapist and murderer, he was one pressed from the Ted Bundy mold. Ace Kee was personable, intelligent, reasonably articulate and clean cut, like Bundy, the infamous American serial killer of the late 1970s. Kee was born Sept. 18, 1973. He spent most of his childhood in East Harlem and was living with relatives in same building as Paola Illera in 1991. Known as a big-talking charmer, Kee was adept at computers. He claimed to be a rap producer, although there is little evidence that he did any work in that field. He was not physically imposing, at just 5-foot-8, but like Bundy he was a fairly handsome man. He'd had just one arrest, for robbery in 1990. But he had spent little or no time locked up. Yet neighbors said Kee had a sick side. He habitually peered though the peepholes of women in his building, and he often traipsed around with a portable video camera, trying clumsily to get shots up skirts.

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