Archive: March, 2009
Here's an excerpt of a story we have going in Wednesday's paper:
He’s not John Dillinger — not by a long shot — but a lanky stickup man has the FBI on his tail after he pulled off a three-month bank-robbery spree.
The crook, a thin, 6-foot-4 black man in his 30s who covers the lower half of his face with a cloth, has robbed two banks in Philadelphia and 13 in New York City since Jan. 7, said Special Agent J.J. Klaver, an FBI spokesman. The thief struck again yesterday in New York.
“This is a lot for a serial robber in a short amount of time,” Klaver said. “He’s hitting so many banks so quickly, and he’s armed."
The lanky bandit’s busy schedule reflects a larger trend in Philadelphia, where the number of bank robberies is surging ahead of previous years’ totals.
Since Jan. 1, 30 bank robberies have occurred in the city, compared to 27 at this point a year ago, and 19 at this time in 2007, said Special Agent Bastian Freund, a bank-robbery coordinator.
A female Philadelphia police officer suffered fractures to her leg and pelvis when her crusier was struck in Center City last night. Police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore said the 48-year-old officer was riding north on 7th Street, on her way to back up another cop, when a motorist traveling east on Market slammed into the cop car.
Rescuers had to use the Jaws of Life to pry the officer out of the crumpled car. Vanore said the officer was "awake and complaining of pain" when she was admitted to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. She was listed in stable condition late last night.
The driver of the other car was unharmed. No charges were filed.
Police earlier today charged Jihan Dudley with murdering her boyfriend’s grandmother in Tioga on Friday night.
Dudley, 24, brutally beat and stabbed Reba Murphy, 74, inside Murphy’s second-floor bathroom, and then set fire to her house on Erie Avenue near 21st Street, said Homicide Sgt. Tim Cooney.
Firefighters discovered Murphy’s body minutes after they extinguished the blaze.
Dudley had recently lived with Murphy, her nephew and her grandson. After the two women quarreled early Friday morning, Murphy obtained a protection from abuse order against Dudley, Cooney said.
Later in that day, the young woman became enraged when Murphy threatened to call the police, Cooney said. Dudley was wanted on two outstanding bench warrants for aggravated assault charges.
Police found Dudley in Abington, Pa., on Saturday. She was initially jailed because of the warrants, then taken back to Philadelphia to meet with homicide investigators.
Dudley was charged with murder, robbery, arson and related offenses, Cooney said.
Neighbors said Murphy was a “beautiful person” who still worked as a teacher’s aide at nearby Cleveland Elementary School.
Three Philadelphia police officers were injured when two cruisers collided in West Philadelphia shortly after 4 p.m. today.
Officer Jillian Russell, a police spokeswoman, said the 16th District cops were responding to another officer's call for backup when one cruiser t-boned the other at 50th Street and Haverford Avenue. The two officers in the striking cruiser complained of head, neck and back pain, Russell said. The third officer was pinned in when his car was smashed on the driver's side. He was injured by shards of glass that hit him in the face and eyes, police said.
Truly sad story from the Tioga section of North Philly.
When the first wisps of black smoke started to snake out of Reba Murphy’s house shortly before 6 last night, her friends and neighbors started to worry.
There was a quick response. Murphy’s home, on Erie Avenue near 21st Street, is a block away from Engine 59 and the 39th police district’s headquarters.
Firefighters extinguished the blaze within minutes. But any hope friends had for Murphy’s survival were soon wiped out in horrific fashion.
"I saw them take her out of the house. She was all stabbed up, and her face was smashed in,” said Vanessa, a neighbor who didn’t want her last name used.
Murphy, 74, was pronounced dead a short while later at Temple University Hospital. Firefighters had found her on the second floor of the house, where she laid severely beaten and stabbed several times in the head, face and torso, said Homicide Sgt. Bob Wilkins.
No arrests had been made last night, and the cause of the blaze was undetermined. Wilkins said investigators were going to interview Murphy’s nephew and grandson, who both lived with her.
Detectives were aware that there had been “some kind of disturbance” involving another woman at Murphy’s house at about 1 a.m. yesterday, Wilkins said.
Several neighbors speculated the woman was Murphy’s grandson’s girlfriend. Wilkins said it was too early in the investigation to identify any potential suspects.
Murphy’s slaying stunned her neighbors, who described their stretch of Tioga as a little island where folks still look out for each other.
Many were accustomed to seeing Murphy outside every day, sweeping her tidy porch or chatting up local youngsters.
Sayeeda Abdullah, a longtime friend, said she “fell apart” when she learned of Murphy’s death.
“I couldn’t believe it. She was a beautiful person ... my prayers go out to her family,” Abdullah said.
Murphy worked as a teacher’s aide at nearby Cleveland Elementary School, said Cassandra Simmons, a local committeewoman.
An argument between two students that began earlier today at Bartram High School later ended in gunfire a few blocks away.
Investigators said a 17-year-old student, whom they did not identify, was shot once in the left leg on Greenway Avenue near 67th Street about 1 p.m.
The student was waiting for a bus with his father when he was approached by a 15-year-old Bartram student he had been bickering with earlier in the day.
This time, police sources said, the younger student was accompanied by a pistol-packing pal, identified as Marcus Harris, 18, the sources said.
The younger student, who also was not identified, bellowed “Something’s going to happen!” and Harris opened fire, then fled with the 15-year-old, sources said.
Cops caught both young men soon after. Harris, of Shields Street near Elmwood Avenue, was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and related offenses. The 15-year-old was held on conspiracy charges.
The wounded teen underwent surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was listed last night in stable condition.
If I could consult some sort of scale that would rate stories on their insanity -- relative to the city -- this one would be an eight, I think.
A case currently making its way through the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau will be of great interest to small, twitchy members of the animal kingdom.
The target of the investigation is an amiable, wide-eyed squirrel.
Or, more specifically, a cop who donned a wide-eyed squirrel costume last Friday for a little birthday celebration and now finds himself at the center of a nutty situation.
The curious tail — er, tale — goes something like this:
Evelyn Heath, a noted animal lover and police chief inspector assigned to the Forensic Science Bureau, was recently accused by a co-worker of having harbored a squirrel in her office, police sources told the Daily News.
While the claim was believed to be untrue, it wasn’t forgotten by cops who planned a little birthday celebration for Heath last week.
On Friday morning, several officers called Heath into an office at the bureau’s headquarters at 8th and Poplar streets and presented her with a few gifts. Suddenly, sources said, there was a knock at the door.
Heath opened the door and found a tall, grinning squirrel — complete with a bag of nuts — hopping in front of her, sources said.
An officer who works at the bureau’s headquarters had rented the suit from Pierre’s Costumes, at 3rd and Arch streets.
Heath found the gag hilarious, and even invited the “squirrel” up to her office to pose for a few pictures, sources said.
The laughter was a welcome change surprise for many cops at the bureau, where the tone is often somber due to the assorted crime scene remnants and images that are processed there.
The costumed cop left Heath’s office and waved at curious onlookers. And that’s when the fur started to fly.
Sources said Carmen Vuotto, a captain who was transferred from Forensics on Friday to the police radio room, caught a glimpse of the waving squirrel and thought he was being mocked as he left the unit. Vuotto and Heath reportedly have a tense relationship.
Vuotto filed a complaint against the squirrel-cop with Internal Affairs. Several investigators were immediately dispatched to 8th and Poplar.
Police officials, including Internal Affairs Chief Inspector Anthony DiLaqua, declined to discuss the investigation yesterday.
FOP vice president John McGrody said the union is “going to refuse to comment, pending further investigation.”
Representatives from the Fluffy Tailed Creatures Local 227 also could not be reached for comment.
Narcotics cops busted a hydroponic marijuana lab with more than $3 million worth of pot in an apartment in the Far Northeast earlier this afternoon. A tip led the officers to an apartment on Beverly Drive near Hemlock rented by Paul Miller, 39, of Warminster, Pa., said Narcotics Capt. Debra Frazier. Miller had more than 700 hydroponic plants, $13,000 in cash, a loaded .40-caliber firearm and equipment to help grow the plants inside the apartment, Frazier said. He was arrested on drug charges. Frazier said it was unclear where Miller had been distributing the hydroponic pot.