2 victims ID'ed; one was criminal near eviction

CHARLOTTE -- One of the four people found shot to death in a southwest Charlotte apartment Monday pleaded guilty to a drug charge a month ago and was just days from eviction when he died.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police on Tuesday identified two of the four victims: William Beaumonde Royster, 46, was a tenant at the apartment in the troubled Tree Top complex; and Andrew Babyak, 43, had an address in York.

Police have made no arrests and identified no suspects in the city's worst multiple homicide in nearly 30 years. Investigators are trying to identify the other two victims, a man and a woman, and contact their families before releasing names, police said.

The killings highlight problems police and city officials have tried to resolve for years: violent crime in areas with concentrations of inexpensive rental units; the need for safe, affordable housing; and how much authority the city should wield to ensure landlords rent to noncriminals.

Just three weeks ago, police proposed a crackdown on negligent landlords, and city housing inspectors are investigating conditions at the complex.

Police have identified the Tree Top area, near Interstate 77 and Nations Ford Road, as one of 36 "hot spots" where they have stepped up patrols and tried to forge relationships with residents to prevent crime.

Tree Top takes up only a sliver of the department's 60-square-mile Steele Creek Division, but it and The Landing apartments across the street account for about 20 percent of the division's crime, according to a police analysis.

Police last year investigated more than 70 crimes -- including 23 violent offenses -- in the section of the complex where the slayings happened, records show. That includes 18 assaults, one rape and one robbery.