Fifteen-year-old Sabriya McLean was stabbed 77 times, a prosecutor told a judge Wednesday. The teen’s naked body was then burned and dumped in a back alley of a West Philadelphia apartment building last year, Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kemp said.
Details of McLean’s gruesome death were revealed at a preliminary hearing for Cole Swaringer-Herring, now 24, of West Philadelphia, whom police have said met McLean on social media, then allegedly killed her in his family’s apartment on the 200 block of South 49th Street on the evening of Nov. 27.
McLean, who most recently lived in New Castle, Del., with her grandmother but is originally from West Philadelphia, was reported missing by her family. Her body was found by police about 10:10 a.m. Nov. 28 in the alley behind Swaringer-Herring’s apartment building.
In court Wednesday, Municipal Court Judge Karen Yvette Simmons held Swaringer-Herring, who remains in custody, for trial on all charges, including murder, abuse of corpse, arson, possession of an instrument of crime, and related offenses, after hearing testimony from the defendant’s ex-girlfriend.
Taaysia Jones, 19, testified that she lived with her mother in the same apartment building as Swaringer-Herring and had met him at the end of September. She said she had a sexual relationship with Swaringer-Herring and began living with him, his parents and a brother.
She ended the relationship because “he would threaten me,” she said. Then, on Nov. 27, she was at a local hospital when she said she received a Facebook message from Swaringer-Herring. He wanted to see her, and he met her at the hospital’s emergency room.
“He told me he stabbed her [the other girl] and set her on fire,” Jones testified.
“He said, ‘I messed up, I messed up,’ ” Jones recalled. “He told me he had killed someone.”
Kemp, while questioning Jones, read part of her Nov. 28 statement to police. In it, Jones said Swaringer-Herring told her he stabbed McLean “because I couldn’t do anything to you and I was mad at you.”
Swaringer-Herring also told Jones that while they were having sex McLean didn’t want him to grab her head, so he punched her, the statement said. He then allegedly taped her hands and mouth and locked her in his bedroom. When McLean tried to flee outside via the fire escape, Swaringer-Herring dragged her back in and told Jones that he had stabbed McLean more than 200 times, Jones’ statement said.
“Cole said she was screaming and crying,” the statement said.
Jones testified that weeks into her relationship with Swaringer-Herring, she got a kitchen knife and kept it in his bedroom in case she needed it for protection. She said she left the knife there when she moved out.
She also testified that Swaringer-Herring told her that he had disposed of the girl’s body by putting it in a clothes bin, then taking it outside via the fire escape.
Public defenders Geoffrey Kilroy and Jonathan Strange contended through questioning and after the hearing that someone else stabbed McLean, but they did not provide evidence to support their allegation.
It was not disclosed in court whether McLean met Swaringer-Herring on Facebook or other social media, and Kemp declined to elaborate afterward.
The victim’s mother, Shanna McLean, who silently wept during the hearing, was visibly distraught afterward. “I want justice for my daughter,” she said, while calling for the defendant to be punished “to the fullest extent.”
The teen’s father, Paul Reddick, said: “We’re devastated.”