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N.Y. City Marshal Beaten to Death

August 22, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) _ A city marshal was beaten to death, doused with gasoline and set on fire, apparently by a family he was trying to serve with an eviction notice, police said.

Erskine Bryce was found dead in a New York apartment with his clothes burned completely off his body. He had cuts and evidence of blunt trauma to his head and wrists, police said.

``I think it’s sick,″ New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said. ``It’s a despicable crime.″

Bryce reportedly had served an eviction notice at the apartment June 18 because the tenant, Joanna Jones, had not been paying her rent. She was later reinstated to the apartment, but had fallen behind again, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Jones, her boyfriend and her son were in the Brooklyn apartment when Bryce was killed, police said. They were being interviewed by detectives. No charges had been filed.

Kerik said Bryce was serving the eviction notice alone and was armed, Kerik said. His gun was found at the scene but not near his body, Kerik added.

City marshals generally are armed and work alone but can summon police help if they feel it’s needed. They often work in some of New York’s toughest neighborhoods, repossessing cars and serving eviction notices and other court orders.

Dorothy Taitt, a neighbor on the block, said the tenants’ troubles with landlord Virginia Smith were well known.

``The lady refused to pay rent,″ Taitt told The Times.

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On the Net:

Department of Investigation: http://www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/doi

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