The sister of one of the two men murdered in Wilton Manors on Christmas weekend says the killings were a hate crime.
Crystal Kicklighter, sister of Kevin Powell, who along with longtime partner Steve Adams was found murdered inside Powell's home on Dec. 26, spoke with NBC Miami from her home in Georgia. She'd just returned from South Florida after coming here following her brother's murder.
Kicklighter believes Powell and Adams were tortured by a man who had just moved in to help with work around the house.
She has spoken privately with detectives and with lots of other people, but she admits some of her theories are coming from the broken heart of a sister.
Family photos of Powell show the warm, caring guy described by those who knew him. He and his partner of 29 years were murdered some time during Christmas weekend. A neighbor says they were fastidious about putting away the trash cans once the garbage was collected on Friday mornings. Yet the cans were at streetside through the weekend.
Police arrested 26-year-old Peter Avsenew on Dec. 29, as he was driving Powell's SUV, but have not yet charged him. He remains in a Polk County jail on violation probations. Wilton Manors police say Avsenew has a long serious criminal history.
Kicklighter believes her brother and Adams were killed not randomly but because they were gay.
"Do you believe it was a hate crime?” she was asked.
"I do,” she said. “I believe that because of my brother's picture on Facebook."
The Facebook photo, she believes, posted on Powell's Facebook page just before he died, shows him in distress. She spotted reddish injuries on his face and says others do, too. In fact, Kicklighter believes Kevin was under a slow attack at the time of the photo itself.
"Kevin was crying out in that picture. You could see into his soul. You could see the pain and torment in his eyes. Kevin was in pain," she said.
And she says Asvenew recently moved into their house to help take care of the place and her brother's bird collections as Kevin recovered from double organ transplant.
Their tiny Pomeranian, “Petie,” was joined, neighbors say, by a Pitbull, which would explain a new roommate.
Wilton Manors police will not say whether Asvenew was moving in with the couple, or how he came to know them other than they met somehow online. But police are being unusually tight-lipped about every aspect of this case. They won't even release how they died or when.
Kicklighter said her other sister warned Kevin not to let Asvenew move in because she just didn't have a good feeling about him.
"I just believe this man did this out of hate. That was his main motive for killing him and I believe that they were tortured," she said. "I believe that guy intended to inflict a lot of pain."
Avsenew's My Space screen name is “painfreak1984.”
"There's no closure for me and my family,” said Kicklighter. “We're just absolutely petrified. We can hardly live our lives right now. Until we know that every stone is unturned, we just can't rest."