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    NEW YORK (AP) _ A former member of the Rockettes was stabbed to death Saturday morning near Central Park by a killer who left an 11-inch butcher knife in her back, authorities said. A suspect was arrested in the park and charged with murder.

    Alexis Welsh, 30, was stabbed repeatedly in the head, neck, back and buttocks during an attempted robbery as she was walking her cocker spaniels, police said. She died several hours later at St. Luke’s Hospital.

    ″This is a real horror story,″ said police spokesman Sgt. Ed Burns.

    The killing occurred two blocks from of the restaurant Tavern on the Green, a popular park tourist attraction. The victim, an employee of Ogilvy & Mather advertising, lived a short distance away with her husband, Christopher.

    Ms. Welsh left the Rockettes, Radio City Music Hall’s famous troupe of precision, high-kicking dancers, in the mid-1980s, according to current Rockette Darlene Wendy.

    ″She was a lovely dancer and a beautiful person inside and out ...,″ said Ms. Wendy. ″She loved being in the Rockettes so much. She would just light up on stage.″

    Kevin McKiever, 34, an unemployed Manhattan man, was arrested in the park shortly after the 5:30 a.m. stabbing, said police Capt. David Scott.

    Two local residents followed the suspect into the park and pointed him out to police, said Sgt. Frank Ziede, one of the two arresting officers.

    ″He was just walking in a very cool and calm manner,″ Ziede said. The suspect was wearing a heavy coat and ragged clothes and had blood all over his hands, he said.

    McKiever was charged with murder, assault, attempted robbery, criminal possession of a weapon and resisting arrest, said Scott. McKiever was jailed last September on charges of assault, arson and burglary, police said, but they had no details on when he was released.

    Ms. Welsh was walking her dogs toward Central Park when McKiever attacked her, Scott said. He attempted to steal her bag and began stabbing her when she started screaming, he said.

    He stabbed the woman repeatedly, finally plunging the 11-inch knife into the woman’s back before strolling into the park across Central Park West, Scott said.

    The New York Times reported in its Sunday editions that residents of McKiever’s former residence on the city’s Upper West Side said he had been evicted two years ago for erratic, violent behavior.


    One neighbor, Sarah Kearney, said McKiever stabbed her two years ago and set her apartment on fire. Kearney displayed a court order of protection against McKiever, the Times said.

    ″He kicked in my door,″ she said. ″He broke into my window and stabbed me with an ice pick. He poured gasoline and tried to light up my door.″

    A woman in Ms. Welsh’s neighborhood who spoke to the Times on condition of anonymity said she was sitting on her terrace listening to the birds when she heard the woman scream, ″Help me, help me. I don’t want to die.″

    Soon after, ″There were people running all over the street from every direction,″ she said.

    The killing stunned residents of the five-story building where Ms. Welsh lived.

    ″Apparently it was just down the street,″ said a neighbor, Samuel Mammell. ″That’s incredible.″

    Ms. Welsh’s dogs, named Pizza and Pepperoni, were taken to a neighbor’s house.