The Disturbing Crime Spree Of The September 11 Serial Killer, Larme Price

The attacks on September 11, 2001, left feelings of fear, anger, and sorrow that still linger on more than two decades later. The deaths of 3,000 Americans on U.S. soil proved to be a carefully orchestrated plot carried out by terrorist masterminds, set to deliver as much chaos and death as it could muster. The events on that Tuesday morning served as a mechanism to unite most Americans behind their government and the people of New York City and Washington, D.C. But they also served as an excuse to allow racist and xenophobic attitudes to bubble up to the surface from the core of some pretty violent individuals. 

Since the terrorists who attacked the United States were Muslims from Muslim nations, a growing hatred toward this group in America quickly escalated. In a recent study conducted by Brown University, it was revealed that hate crimes against Muslims grew by 500% between 2000 and 2009. Reported assaults against Muslims in America hit their peak in 2016 when 127 violent incidents were reported. Of course, these numbers only reflect the violent acts perpetrated against members of that religious faith. They do not reflect any increase in hate speech or discrimination these people may have suffered post-9/11.

One man took his hatred of Muslims to the most violent level imaginable. Larme Price embarked on a six-week spree that left blood on his hands and fear coursing through the veins of New York residents. Later dubbed the "Thrill Killer," he was responsible for the deaths of four people.

The killing spree begins

Larme Price first killed on the morning of February 8, 2003 (per the New York Post). John Freddy, a manager at a Queens Associated Supermarket, walked into the Central Mini-Market as he did most mornings when he was on his way to work. Freddy was grabbing a coffee to help jumpstart his day when Price came into the convenience store. He pulled out a .40 caliber pistol and fired a lethal shot into Freddy's head (per Queens Chronicle). The Associated Press reports that the store's security cameras caught a recording of the slaying. The video showed a man dressed in a dark coat and wearing a hat approaching Freddy from behind and shooting him behind his ear. And Price was only getting started.

Two hours later, Sukhjit Khajala was fatally shot while he worked at a small store in the Mill Basin neighborhood. Ballistics later revealed that the slug used to end Khajala's life was from the same .40 caliber gun used to execute Freddy earlier in the day. It might have appeared that robbery was the motive when police first investigated Khajala's murder. The suspect, later identified as Price, grabbed an estimated $170 from the cash register before he walked out of the store. The New York Post tells us that he shot at a second person but thankfully missed.

Two seemingly random executions within hours of each other put the surrounding neighborhoods on high alert. Would the shooter be brought to justice before he killed again? Unfortunately, Price laid low for a time before continuing his crime spree.

Price doesn't strike again for a month

On March 10, 32-year-old Albert Kotlyar was busy working in a Brooklyn laundromat. He was working an early shift, manning the counter at 6 a.m., when Price entered the business. The New York Post reports that Larme Price sat down on a bench and drank from a cup of coffee. After 10 minutes, Price got up and walked over to the counter. He pulled a gun out and shot Kotlyar in the head at point-blank range. 

The police were able to identify the bullet used in Kotlyar's murder — it was from the same .40 caliber gun used a month ago to kill John Freddy and Sukhjit Khajala. It appeared to investigators that they had a serial killer running through Brooklyn and Queens that was targeting immigrant men. They had camera footage of their suspect and several eyewitness descriptions but were struggling to find a primary suspect. The killings didn't appear to be robbery motivated after Kotlyar was shot, as no attempt to get money from the business was made.

And Price wasn't finished. On March 20, he walked into the Stop 2 Food Market in Crown Heights and fatally shot 54-year-old Yemini immigrant Mohammed Abdo Nasser, a clerk at the store (per the New York Post). Yakoob Aldaylam, a 20-year-old employee, was also shot but survived his injuries. Aldaylam also hailed from Yemen. 

Five shooting victims, four murders, all immigrants. The investigation was about to take an interesting turn, however. Without any forewarning, Price walked into a local police station and told officers he knew who was behind the shootings.

Price is apprehended

When Larme Price approached investigators on March 28, he told them that a man who goes by the name "Dog" was responsible for all four murders (per Queens Chronicle). The police in the 77th Precinct were suspicious of the story Price was telling. They noted that he fit the description of the suspect they had been looking for and noticed that he walked pigeon-toed. This particular feature was an important tip, as the police saw the shooter leave one of the murder scenes walking in that same fashion. Price left the station but placed a call to Detective Tony Viggiani the following day and admitted to the murders (via Queens Chronicle). 

The New York Post reports that Price felt motivated to give a confession to the crimes because he had started reading the Bible. Apparently, the part in the book of Exodus where it reads "Thou shalt not kill" began to resonate with Price, prompting him to tell the police everything. After his admission, he was promptly arrested and booked on charges of first-degree murder. He was remanded without any bond. The Associated Press tells us how an attorney for Price requested that he be placed under a suicide watch while he was in jail. During his confession, Price gave details about what motivated him to shoot and kill four innocent men while they tried to make a living. When the pieces of his life were put together, it made some ask if the courts were dealing with a cold-blooded and bigoted killer or a man who was experiencing a serious mental illness.

He reveals his motive to kill

Larme Price made it very clear to investigators that robbery was never his motive in the shootings. Rather, the ruthless killer said that he drew from the events from 18 months prior — the terrorist attacks on the United States. CBS News reports that Price was acting on an extreme hatred he had developed for Muslims after September 11 and began targeting them. Indeed, people being killed solely for their ethnic or religious background made many of the people of Queens and Brooklyn live in fear. The relief of the shooter's capture sent a surge of relief through the diverse communities across the East River. One young bakery employee told The New York Times, "We definitely feel safer and relieved now that he's caught. You had to look twice at every person coming in here." The authorities were quick to condemn not only the killings but Price's stated motive. New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told the media, "One man's twisted view has led to the murder of four people. This department will not tolerate anger against immigrants or crimes of bias."

Price had a lengthy criminal history, but nothing near as violent as the murder spree that he terrorized the city with for six weeks. The New York Post reports that Price had been arrested multiple times since 1989. He was previously booked on charges of robbery, burglary, assault, and possession of a weapon. Perhaps Price's actions in 2003 were the result of gradual criminal progression. But his mother shed some light on other factors that might have driven him to kill.

His mother paints a different picture of the killer

Was Larme Price experiencing mental illness? His mother seemed to think so. Leatha Price stated that her son had mental issues and had a bad drug problem. Furthermore, her son had tried to get mental health help at a hospital but was turned away (via Queens Chronicle). Hospital records revealed that Price was treated on October 6, 2001 and again on March 9, 2003, for mental health problems (per The New York Times). The day after he visited Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center, he shot and killed Albert Kotlyar in the laundromat.

Price made statements to police that might also lend some credence to him not being of sound mind. The New York Times reports that Price expressed a hatred for many groups of people but considered himself a "patriotic killer" and told them that he was interested in joining the military. The police revealed to the press that Price had been using large amounts of controlled substances, including the drug PCP. PCP is known to give users powerful hallucinations and can induce paranoia. Price told officers that he was guided by "vibes," which prompted him to pull the trigger each time. If he was getting "bad vibes" from someone, he pulled out his weapon. If he had "good vibes," he left them alone.

Price was most likely going to face the death penalty for the murders. The New York Post tells us that he made a deal with prosecutors in November 2003 and pled guilty in exchange for his life being spared. Price will never be eligible for parole.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.