Investigation Discovery's 'Homicide City' looks at some of Philly's most shocking murders

Nick Vadala, Staff Writer

Updated: Thursday, February 1, 2018, 1:29 PM

From the opening titles of 'Homicide City,' a new series from Investigation Discovery focusing on Philadelphia

A new true crime series from Investigation Discovery will look back at some of the Philadelphia area’s most shocking homicides.

Across its first season, Homicide City will examine six notorious murders that took place in Philadelphia, running back to 1982. The show will provide accounts of the cases, including interviews with former Inquirer reporter Larry Lewis, retired Philadelphia Police Sergeant William Britt, and former MontCo Chief Oscar Vance, among other locals.

Homicide City premieres on ID Feb. 21 with “A Manager’s Murder,” which details the murder of John Thurberg, a Houlihan’s restaurant manager, in May 1996.

In that case, according to a 1997 Inquirer article, Samuel Ross, 21, David Travers, 19, and Johnnie Blalock, 31, pleaded guilty to murder, robbery, and other charges in the death of Thurberg, who was then 28. The trio planned to rob the Abington Houlihan’s that Thurberg managed, but made off with only $2 after murdering him. Thurberg was killed just five months before he was set to marry his then-fiancé, Patti Hemko.

Followup “Nine Months Murdered,” documents the case of Kareem Sampson, who was convicted of shooting and killing Natise Johnson, 21, in March 1999, resulting in the death of her fetus. Sampson received two consecutive life sentences, and, according to an Inquirer report, the case is considered to be the first in Philadelphia in which a person was charged with first-degree murder for killing a fetus.

In “Main Line Massacre,” ID moves Homicide City to Villanova, where, in July 1982, Roger Peter Buehl, then 22, murdered Lockheed Corp. co-founder Courtlandt S. Gross, 77, his wife Alexandra, 72, and their maid, Catherine VanderVeur, 69. Initially represented by attorney A. Charles Peruto Jr., Buehl was sentenced to the death penalty in Jan. 1983, but was re-sentenced to life in prison in 1997.

“Bingham Street Blues” recounts a triple murder in Crescentville that resulted in the deaths of Patricia Henry, 51, her daughter Patricia Stallworth, 15, and Henry boyfriend, James Cofer, 52, in Sept. 2003. Sean Brown, then 20, pleaded guilty to the murders and to raping Henry, but later said in court that he was “too pretty” too have committed the rape. After murdering the victims, Brown reportedly ate dinner in the family’s home and watched Monday Night Football.

Philadelphia’s Russian community is the focus for “Russian Tragedy,” which deals with the murder of Fay Zonis in Dec. 2003. Paul Eduardovich Goldman was charged with killing Zonis, and later killed himself in Nov. 2004. Prior to his suicide, Goldman’s parents killed themselves after paying for a plane ticket that helped to get Goldman out of the country for a while after the murder.

Season finale “South Street Mystery” focuses on the murders of Richard Zimmerman, 54, and his wife Patricia, 45, who sold jewelry out of their South Street home, in Feb. 1997. Their son, Matthew, 34, was convicted of the murders, and was sentenced to life in prison. According to Assistant District Attorney Richard Sax, Matthew was after his parents assets, including the South Street home, the couple’s life insurance policies, and valuable jewels.

Homicide City is produced by Blackfin, a studio based out of New York. The series airs Wednesdays on ID at 10 p.m.

Nick Vadala, Staff Writer

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