The police called it "the slashing job."
The call came in at 5:18 p.m. on September 12, 2009. Ten-year-old Anthony DiAndrea had been playing with kids on his street in the Pennypack section of the Northeast when he decided to head inside to work on a book report for school. When he tried to open the front door of his house, it was locked. He walked around to the back door. Locked as well. And there was blood on it.
Anthony ran to a neighbor he knew had a spare key. The neighbor almost handed it to him, but then thought better of it. Instead, she walked back with him to the house. When she saw the blood on the door, she called 911.
Inside, police found blood everywhere — in the hallways, in the dining room, in the living room, in the basement. There was so much that the scene would later be described in the papers as “a Quentin Tarantino movie.” Upstairs, they found two bodies covered in blood: one in the computer room, the other in the master bedroom. And at least two bloody knives.
Detectives couldn’t immediately piece together what had happened inside 121 Greycourt Road. Had an intruder killed Anthony’s parents? Had his mom and dad engaged in a knife-fight to the death? Two days later, investigators ruled it a murder/suicide: Robert DiAndrea, 40, had stabbed his wife Sophie, 39, at least four times in the chest, then killed himself by slicing his arms—from his wrists all the way up to his biceps — 10 times.
It was a particularly gruesome crime in what would prove to be a particularly gruesome year for Philadelphia. There were 37 domestic homicides in Philadelphia last year … a 76 percent increase over 2008. Seventy-six percent. Experts blamed the economy, but that seemed too neat and tidy for a crime like this—one so intimate, and brutal.
The Daily News reported two days later that the DiAndreas had “domestic problems,” and that these would be “watered down” in the soon-to-be-released police report in order to be sensitive to the families. The implication was clear: There had been real trouble inside that house on Greycourt Road, serious trouble. Everyone knows there is a formula to something this heinous: a terrifying pattern of past behavior, a history. And so popular wisdom took hold, in Pennypack and beyond. There must have been 911 calls. Protection-against-abuse orders. Drugs. Alcohol. Yelling that the neighbors heard through open windows all summer long. Bruises that couldn’t be hidden with makeup. A man didn’t suddenly, out of nowhere, stab his wife to death and then kill himself on a Saturday afternoon.