Lehigh Valley

Police arrest suspect in stabbing death of man in Easton

Lawrence Gaines has long rap sheet of crimes, police say

Police arrest suspect in stabbing death of man in Easton

EASTON, Pa. - It barely took 24 hours to catch up to Easton's latest homicide suspect.

Police nabbed Lawrence Gaines as he walked down a street in broad daylight. In spite of the arrest, neighbors said they are still worried.

For the family of William Thompson, it was a heartbreaking way to spend the Independence Day -- leaving flowers at the site where he was stabbed to death.

"I feel really bad for his family -- so bad," said neighbor Melissa Sposato. "I can't believe that happened to a 43-year-old guy."

Police didn't have to look far for Gaines, 44. They caught him as he was walking down South 11th Street on Wednesday morning. It's just blocks away from Ferry and South Union streets, where investigators believe he stabbed Thompson after a fight over drugs.

"There's drugs, prostitution, everything's going on," said neighbor Marie Ike.

While neighbors said they are relieved someone was arrested so fast, they are calling on the city to do more to address the root problems in the neighborhood.

"As far as this neighborhood, I think it's pretty bad, with the prostitution and the drugs and everything," said Sposato. "There's drugs all over Easton."

The crime scene is right across the street from the county jail. Tuesday, Mayor Sal Panto, D-Easton, said police have beefed-up patrols, but vacant properties continue to be crime havens.

"We need the help from the slum lords," he said. "These are not owner-occupied people getting trouble. These are people who are transient, living in apartments [where] they shouldn't even be there."

Gaines has a long rap sheet, including prison stints for theft, criminal conspiracy, and simple assault. He was set to be formally charged Wednesday afternoon on criminal homicide charges.

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