The killer hated black men, and he traveled to New York from Baltimore planning to create a media spectacle by murdering one or more African-Americans. His victim, the subject of a New York Times profile by N.R. Kleinfield, was Timothy Caughman, 66, a benevolent man content with an unassuming life. He lived in a former single room occupancy residence in Manhattan that had been his longtime home.
The son of a home health care aide and a pastor, he had worked in antipoverty programs in Queens. Religion and philosophy were constants in his conversations over unhurried meals of turkey bacon and grits at local diners. In recent years, he had caught the familiar New York infatuation with celebrities and delighted in collecting their autographs and pictures. He read avidly, and mainly kept to himself. He was a recycler of redeemables, his currency for his modest wants. His relatives said he viewed this as an entrepreneurial undertaking, a way to keep active and help pay for his room.