Kevin Chiles: Penthouse Interview

Article by Seth Ferranti

Sadness and despair were being drowned out by rage, mixed in with guilt and remorse. I felt responsible for what happened. I wanted blood on my hands and needed vengeance. I wasn’t thinking rationally. I know I attended her wake, but I don’t have any distinct memories of being there, talking to anyone, or taking part in any of its planning. Revenge was the only planning I can even recall because I was in a daze, mixed with denial. Having someone you love taken from you violently is even harder than other forms of death, like disease, accident, etc. None of it is easy, but people taken from you prematurely and violently carries a different kind of burden and pain.

What happened to the killers?

I had the word out and endless resources in place to locate these individuals. Shortly after the murders, I received news

that they fled the city. My searching for them never ceased, even as the incident and the offenders were featured on America’s Most Wanted.

Two of them were apprehended by law enforcement. At some point, I got word the third coward was deceased, but I have no idea of the circumstances behind his death. I didn’t attend or participate in the trials, but I knew they were convicted and sentenced to 60-plus years for each murder, to run consecutively. Many may have taken solace in some form of justice taking place. That wasn’t the case for me. Nothing would have denoted justice for the loss, and the only thing that would have taken even a distant second was me as judge, jury, and executioner.

How did the flow of drug profits into Harlem’s economy change life for residents?

The positive economic effects of the era extended well beyond people being able to buy boosted goods at a discount, or purchase TVs and VCRs on the cheap from a crackhead. There were families being fed and clothed. There were people that never had cars or taken a trip finally having the means and opportunity. Much of the money was contained and spent in the ’hood. Grocery stores, cleaners, restaurants, car washes, clothing stores, barber shops, and beauty shops flourished. None of us ever benefited from any trickle-down effects of Reaganomics, but the community definitely benefited from the money being made and spent from the crack trade.

The money was intoxicating. And while it came with a price, none of us were going to turn it down. Once the violence started becoming a regular thing, me and my crew began not only carrying weapons at all times, but wearing bulletproof vests and sometimes even bulletproof hats as well. Instead of changing our mind-set and environment, we just adapted to the madness. We would rather have been caught with our weapons than without. With my crew, there was a true structure with order and a hierarchy. We moved in precision and with a purpose. One for all, all for one.

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