A Connecticut man who was behind on his rent brutally killed his landlord when confronted over the late payments, according to multiple reports. Jerry David Thompson was arrested last week for the grisly crime that allegedly included decapitating his landlord, Victor King, with a samurai sword in a home in Hartford.
The violence over unpaid rent took place in the days leading up to what many economists have predicted will be a mass eviction crisis when some renters’ federal protections during the coronavirus pandemic expired at the beginning of this month. While Connecticut was one of the states that extended its ban on evictions until Aug. 25, the type of violent confrontation between renter and landlord that was seen in Hartford could play out in other places around the country where eviction moratoriums have ended.
In the Hartford killing, Thompson and King were roommates, too, making their living situation unique to other renters around the country who are bracing for mass evictions. But while all the details were not immediately known, the deadly dispute was over unpaid rent, the latter being a serious reality for many people.
It was unclear how late Thompson was with his rent. However, the Hartford Courant reported that King told police on July 25 that Thompson threatened him with a samurai sword when confronted about the unpaid rent. King was found beheaded in the home the very next day.
According to CNBC, “Nearly 2-in-5 tenants across the country, particularly low-wage workers, are in danger of being served eviction notices.” The lion share of those renters are people of color. “While half of White renters project that they can cover rent, just more than a quarter of Black renters feel the same,” CNBC added.
The below graphic shows the percentage of each state’s renters who fear evictions because they have been unable to pay their rents during the pandemic that has also forced record unemployment levels. In Connecticut, that figure stood at 41 percent as of last Monday.
The rate of renters facing eviction fluctuates across the country, as shown in states like West Virginia where more than half of its renters fear the worst. Meanwhile, the number shrinks to 22 percent in smaller states like Vermont.
And while those two states are very white, the pending eviction crisis will, just like the pandemic, overwhelmingly affect Black and brown people.
“We know evictions have always had a disproportionate impact on tenants of color due to discrimination and lack of wealth,” John Pollock, of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, told CNBC last week. He said the 2.3 million evictions that happened in all of last year could be eclipsed during this month alone.
“When you look at this gap between people who can pay their rent and people who can’t, it’s almost hard to put into words how bad the inequality will become absent some major intervention,” he said.