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Police charge Brooklyn man suspected of murdering love triangle rival and burning corpse, before attending victim’s church on Sunday and seating in his regular pew

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NYPD Wednesday arrested Derek Whitaker for the vicious stabbing death of Jonathan Blake, 42, in what police believe was a “lovers triangle”
Blake was apparently shot in the head before his remains were torched inside a barrel in the basement of the Bedford-Stuyvesant residence where the suspect worked as a superintendent
He was arraigned before a criminal court judge early Thursday day morning and charged with arson, concealing a corpse, hindering prosecution and witness tampering
The victim was with a female companion at the time, who police say is Whitaker’s ex-girlfriend
Santiago was with the unidentified woman, at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday in her home when the Whitaker barged in on them
Whitaker allegedly stalked his victim for four to six months before the killing
He likely will also be charged with murder
His criminal record includes 19 prior arrests, including a robbery charge
Derek Whitaker 1Officers from the 81st Precinct take murder suspect Derek Whitaker, [Right], into custody in Brooklyn on Monday March 16th, 2020

The devil was inside oft-arrested Derek Whitaker when he took the empty seat in row three for Sunday church services, the exact spot where missing parishioner Jonathan Blake prayed to God each week.

One parishioner said the suspect sat “Right in that seat there,” Dorothy Tomlinson said on Thursday recalling the scene inside the White Plains Deliverance Evangelical Center on Sunday.
“You know something was wrong with [Whitaker]. He was delusional. He wasn’t himself … He was shouting, he was acting crazy,” she added
Detectives said Whitaker was stalking his victim for four to six months before the killing, taking note of where his target worked, ate and lived. They believe Whitaker might have had an accomplice.
Whitaker is charged with arson, concealing a corpse, hindering prosecution and witness tampering — and he’s likely to be charged with murder, a police source said. His rap sheet includes 19 prior arrests, including a robbery charge.

Jonathan Blake 1Victim: Jonathan Blake, who was found dead and burned in a barrel in the basement of a Brooklyn apt building on Monday

Whitaker, 53, is now suspected of burning Blake’s corpse inside a barrel in the basement of a Brooklyn apartment building, with cops suspecting the charred victim was killed over a love triangle.
The dead man, identified as Jonathan Blake by family members, was apparently shot in the head before his remains were torched in the Bedford-Stuyvesant residence where Whitaker works as the superintendent and his mother lives upstairs, according to police sources.
Blake was missing during Sunday’s church service at his church in Westchester but his family and fellow parishioners had no idea then of his awful fate.
“We didn’t know that [Whitaker] took that young man and killed him, and came to the church,” said Tomlinson. “How do you get over something like that?”
Tomlinson, who turned near-hysterical in recounting the scene, recalled how Whitaker even exchanged a hug with the victim’s unsuspecting brother David Blake — a pastor at the church.
“It was so bizarre,” recalled Ray Blake Jr., another brother of the victim. “And this guy had the audacity to come to church and hug my brother.”
Ray Blake Jr. said Whitaker made a giant show of himself during the church service.
“He came down to the altar,” Ray Blake Jr. said. “He was banging on the floors hollering ‘Jesus, I’m a changed man. I’m a changed man.’ He held up the service for about 30 minutes.”
“I was uncomfortable with how he was behaving,” he added. “But since we’re in church, we try not to interfere with the movement of God . . . Now I know guilt was killing him. He was crying out from his soul, crying and kicking and screaming.”
Ray Blake Jr. had last spoken to his brother Jonathan Thursday night. He grew worried when there was no sign of him after that and the family went to police after he failed to show up at the Sunday service.
Police said Whitaker was stalking Blake for four to six months before the killing, taking note of where his target worked, ate and lived. they also believe Whitaker might have had an accomplice.
Whitaker is charged with arson, concealing a corpse, hindering prosecution and witness tampering — and he’s likely to be charged with murder, a police source said. His rap sheet includes 19 prior arrests, including a robbery charge.

Basement where Derek Whitaker was caught burning the corpse of Jonathan Blake 1The basement in Brooklyn where firefighters found the burning barrel, with a body stuffed inside, believed to be Jonathan Blake, leading to the arrest of Whitaker 

According to Tomlinson, Whitaker’s attractive ex-wife was working the Sunday service as an usher. After the couple split, Whitaker’s attendance lagged and he did not return for two years before his recent unexpected appearance.
Firefighters responded Monday afternoon to a 911 call of someone burning a corpse in the basement of the building on Jefferson Ave. near Marcus Garvey Blvd. and ran intro Whitaker, cops said.
Whitaker even led firefighters through a bolted door into a room where the body was stuffed inside the burning barrel. But then he bolted the scene, authorities saidCops nabbed him a short distance away and took him to the 81st Precinct stationhouse.Officers from the 81st Precinct investigate after a woman called 911 and stated that a man was burning a body inside a barrel at 494 Jefferson Avenue in Brooklyn on Monday March 16th, 2020.

NYPD Officers investigate after a 911 caller stated that a man was burning a body inside a barrel 1Officers from the 81st Precinct investigate after a woman called 911 and stated that a man was burning a body inside a barrel at 494 Jefferson Avenue in Brooklyn on Monday 

One neighbor, who saw police arrest Whitaker, said the murder suspect never showed any outward indication of violent tendencies.
Police suspect the victim was shot in Westchester County. Surveillance video shows someone pushing a cart holding the barrel into the Brooklyn building, sources said.

Rev. Ray Blake Jr. said he received a call Tuesday night from a detective saying something horrible had happened to his brother. He still can’t wrap his head around the killer taking the seat where Jonathan sat each week.

“That, I believe, is a coincidence because (Whitaker) hasn’t been in church for the past two years,” said Ray Blake. “But it’s very creepy.”

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