For nearly 20 years, 57-year-old Nathaniel Glover has lived alone in a small, one-room apartment on a tranquil block near busy Jerome Avenue in the Bronx. A handyman and security guard in midtown Manhattan, Glover was sometimes so quiet in his top-floor room of the three-story building that his downstairs neighbors sometimes didn't even know he was home for days.
"He was very respectful," Jacqueline Hailey, Glover's neighbor since 2011, tells Rolling Stone. "He was never making trouble. Sometimes, you didn't even know he was home. When somebody told me the cops were in my building, my last thought was that it was for him. He was always saying hello and smiling."
On Wednesday, Glover, who earned his spot in music history as Kidd Creole in the pioneering hip-hop group Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, was arrested and charged with the murder of 55-year-old homeless man John Jolly after the two got into an argument near Glover's job.
Glover became enraged after he thought Jolly was making sexual advances toward him, pulling a blade out of his sleeve and stabbing him two times in the chest. A half-dozen tourists, believing Jolly was simply passed out, called 911 after seeing him lying on the sidewalk. When police came, they found Jolly with multiple stab wounds and pronounced him dead at Bellevue Hospital less than one hour later.
"They had no prior relationship," one source told the New York Daily News. "They had words. Things got out of hand. It was some sort of diss."
According to NBC News, Glover confessed to stabbing Jolly, telling police he thought Jolly was going to rob him. Surveillance video helped capture Glover, who is currently in jail after being arraigned Thursday afternoon. He had been arrested four times previously, most recently in 2007 for possession of a knife. (Glover was arrested in 1982 and 1995 both for possession of a gun, while a fourth arrest remains sealed.)
After the attack, Glover went to work and washed off the knife, according to the New York Times. He went home, according to assistant district attorney Mark Dahl and "tossed the knife into the sewer."
Reps for Glover and the Furious Five did not reply to requests for comment.
But for the half-dozen residents of his building that spoke to Rolling Stone, shock was an understatement, as many of his neighbors tried to reconcile a "respectful, humble as hell" man with an alleged murderer.
"He had no issues," says one building resident who asked to remain anonymous but has known Glover for two decades. "He's the one guy you can say, 'You can't say nothing bad about him.' When I saw [the police] bring him out [of the building], my heart dropped. He's been here so long and I can't explain how nice he is. He was like one of my kids. I'm still shocked."
Glover, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007 as part of the Furious Five, remained semi-active in music, performing sporadically with the Furious Five at throwback hip-hop concerts alongside groups like the Sugarhill Gang. The Furious Five were scheduled to play an August 20th show in Philadelphia with Doug E. Fresh, Big Daddy Kane and Das EFX, among others, but their name has since been removed from a Live Nation concert listing. Event organizers did not reply to a request for comment.
His YouTube channel also features the rapper performing a series called 50 Rhymes in 50 Days, though nearly every video, recorded between three and five years ago, has less than 500 views.
Among neighbors, the member of one of rap's most important groups was simply "Nate," only mentioning his hip-hop alter ego if asked and receding, willingly or not, into a more prosaic life than the glitz and fame of his 1980s heyday.
"I never had any problems with him in the 17 years I've been here," Willie Weddington, the building's super, tells Rolling Stone. "He speaks to everybody. He never bothered anybody. Friendly and everything. He just went about his business. The man respected everybody here and everybody respected him."