Michael Brea, a small-time actor who once appeared on Ugly Betty, has been taken into custody for allegedly decapitating his mother inside their Park Place apartment yesterday with a samurai sword, a truly heinous act that horrified the US.
Michael Brea, 31, was arguing with Yannick Brea in the apartment between Grand and Classon avenues at 2:20 am when he allegedly attacked his 55-year-old mother while spouting Bible passages and screaming “Repent, repent” before delivering the death blows.
Officers responded to calls about a domestic disturbance at Brea’s home earlier in the evening but left without taking any action. They were called back to the scene again early yesterday morning by neighbors who reported horrifying screams.
Neighbors claim cops initially refused to enter her apartment early Tuesday despite their pleas. When cops finally got inside the Prospect Heights home, they faced an “extremely bloody” scene with Yannick Brea kneeling with her head almost decapitated in a blood-spattered bathroom.
The body of Yannick Brea is removed from the scene.
The son, holding the three-foot sword and babbling about religion and repentance, was arrested in a nearby bedroom, police said. They had to subdue him using a taser. He was spouting gibberish when he was removed from the Park Place apartment on a stretcher.
He apparently removed the murder weapon from a Masonic lodge after a meeting Monday night and then used it later on his mother, said the suspect’s uncle.
Brea was a low-level Mason who was not cleared to take one of the ceremonial swords – typically stainless steel blades with a short, black grip.
Gregory Clare who lived below the apartment heard the commotion.
“Michael was yelling, ‘Repent, repent, sinner, sinner’, over and over again’, Clare said. ‘He was screaming, ‘You never accepted Jesus’. It was real loud.”
Neighbors described a hellish sound coming from the Brea apartment in the middle of the night.
“I could hear her groaning inside … She was still alive, but they wouldn’t go in,” said Clinton Clare, 52, who lived in the apartment below the Brea family.
Clare estimated police waited an hour before bursting into the apartment, where neighbors heard Michael Brea, 31, delivering a terrifying rant at his doomed mother.
“I heard a ‘Help me!’ shriek,” said Vernal Bent, 18, who lived in the apartment above. “Police kept knocking on the door. Knocking and knocking … All of us kept saying, ‘Open the door.’”
Gregory Clare, whose father owns the building, said his dad gave the OK for four cops to break down the door.
“They just kept saying protocol this and protocol that,” he said. “Now a woman’s dead who should be alive if only the police would have listened.”
NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly questioned neighbor accounts of the delay, saying he believed officers handled the situation properly.
“It’s a barricaded situation and that is handled by the Emergency Services Unit. What happens in a barricade situation is that responding patrol officers, if possible, wait for the Emergency Services forces to arrive,” Kelly said.
The accused killer’s cousin was stunned by the news of Yannick’s death.
“She was a very loving person,” said John Brea, 34, as he stood outside the apartment building. “She helped to raise all of us.”
John Brea said his aunt was a hard-working woman employed by a local hotel.
Neighbors and an ex-girlfriend described Michael Brea as a martial arts student who showed no signs of any mental illness and no violent tendencies.
“Michael had the whole world in his hands,” said an ex-girlfriend. “This is a shock.”
Brea has not been charged but is in police custody and undergoing psychiatric evaluation at Kings County Hospital. Police said that Brea is a “person of interest” in the murder.
Yannick was a survivor of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
She worked at the Marriott at the World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the attack, but never went back to work afterward.
Brea appeared in one episode of “Ugly Betty,” but he apparently has done little other acting. He has no listing on the Internet Movie Data Base, an Internet site that tracks people in the entertainment business.
He was described by neighbours as “quiet” and into martial arts.
In addition to his acting, Michael Brea was also an entrepreneur who previously owned a Subway franchise at 1709 Broadway in Brooklyn, where he was known for giving out free turkey subs on Thanksgiving. The franchise was taken away a year ago because of poor performance.
Michael’s twin brother Marcel, a martial arts instructor, also lived with his mother. Marcel’s whereabout at that time of the murder is unclear.