Kensington Looks for Hope After Brutal Attacks on Prostitutes

Surveillance footage of suspect wanted for a July 12th sexual assault and attempted murder in Kensington. (Philadelphia Police)

Surveillance footage of suspect wanted for a July 12th sexual assault and attempted murder in Kensington. (Philadelphia Police)

A tiny pink sign sits on the ground at the edge of an empty lot in Kensington, calling out a reassuring message from the dirt and the grass: “GOD IS LOVE.” A wisp of yellow crime scene tape intrudes on that thought, drooping in the humid air from a cyclone fence. This is where a madman butchered Rickie Morgan.

The 35-year-old woman was bludgeoned with a brick and fatally stabbed late Saturday on Cumberland Street near Jasper. She tried to escape, running naked for a block until she collapsed from her injuries. The scene was every bit as gruesome as it sounds. “She was bloody from head to toe,” a police captain told NBC 10 that night.

Morgan was a prostitute. She was also a mother, according to her friends, and an avid reader who liked to talk about theology and the nature of the universe—the way life worked, or didn’t. Those who were close to her will gather for a vigil at 2 p.m. today in Kensington. They’ll mourn, but they’ll also be on high alert. Investigators believe the man who killed Morgan might have also been involved in other recent violent attacks of prostitutes in the area. Read more »

Report: Former Top Cop John Timoney Battling Lung Cancer

Former Philadelphia police commissioner John Timoney.

Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Timoney.

Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Timoney is battling stage IV lung cancer, Newsworks reported earlier today.

Timoney, 68, is being treated at a Miami hospital, and told the website in an email that his voice — that familiar mash-up of his native Dublin and New York City —  is now “completely gone.”

Read more »

Philly Working to Update 911 System to Receive Text Messages

iStockphoto.com | Jane Kelly

iStockphoto.com | Jane Kelly

Soon, you may be able to text-to-911 across the Philly region. Philadelphia County is on its way to having a much improved 911 system which includes the ability to send and receive text messages. Montgomery, Bucks and Chester counties in Pennsylvania have had the service for some time, and yesterday, Camden County unveiled its own text-to-911 service.

Philadelphia’s project is part of Next Generation 911 (NG911), a government program that is working with municipalities big and small to help in the transition to more effective technology systems. But the transition doesn’t happen overnight. Read more »

Philly Police Will Travel in Pairs Following Dallas Shooting

Philadelphia Police Lt. John Stanford told NewsWorks today that all police officers would be traveling in two-person vehicles following the deadly sniper shootings in Dallas last night, which ended with the death of five police officers. Officers said they aren’t sure how long the precaution will continue.

Police Commissioner Richard Ross spoke to reporters about the Dallas shooting outside police headquarters this morning.

“You watch in horror,” Ross said, according to NBC10. “It’s absolutely horrible and tragic, and your heart goes out to, obviously, that entire city, that department, but [also] the men and women who wear the uniform across this nation.”

The shooting in Dallas occurred shortly before 9 p.m. last night during a Black Lives Matter protest following two incidents this week in which police shot and killed two black men in Minnesota  and Louisiana. Read more »

Pipe Bomb Accidentally Brought Inside Police Building

Philadelphia police evacuated the 35th District’s headquarters Saturday night after officers unknowingly brought a pipe bomb into the building.

The pipe bomb, along with an AK-47, was located in a garbage bag that police had confiscated from a property on Torresdale Avenue near Benner Street in Northeast Philly about 12:30 p.m., when they took Brian Horter into custody on weapons violations charges.

Horter, 31, was wanted by the state Attorney General’s Gun Violence Task Force. He was taken to Northwest Detectives — which is housed in the same building as the 35th — to be processed. And that’s when investigators discovered the explosive device.

Read more »

Philly Police Officer Charged With Attempted Extortion

L: Courtesy of Dave Connor | R: By U.S. government via Wikimedia Commons

L: Courtesy of Dave Connor | R: By U.S. government via Wikimedia Commons

A Philadelphia Police Officer was charged Monday with attempted extortion of an alleged drug dealer, according to documents filed by U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger.

Thomas Vitanovitz, 32, is accused of falsely claiming official right in unlawfully taking 50 pills, which he believed to have been some sort of illegal drug, from an alleged dealer last July 21st, according to charging information provided by federal prosecutors.

During a phone interview with the Inquirer Monday, Vitanovitz said he developed a “pill problem” after shoulder injuries he attained on the job led to two surgeries and a pain pill prescription. He also said he checked into rehab the morning after the arrest, and he plans to plead guilty.

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Two Off-Duty Philly Police Officers Involved in Shootings Tuesday

Lynel Henry and Ricky Mosley are charged with burglary of a Philadelphia Police officer's home.

Lynel Henry and Ricky Mosley are charged with burglary of a Philadelphia Police officer’s home.

Two off-duty police officers fired their weapons at suspects in unrelated incidents Tuesday.

The first incident occurred at 1:12 p.m. in an off-duty police officer’s home; he entered his Wellington Street residence and noticed that some items were in disarray – the TV was missing, the rear window was open, and the rear kitchen door was slightly open. After hearing movement and voices in the basement, the 12th-district officer said he approached the stairs, drew his weapon and said “police.”

At that point Rick Mosley, also known as Ameen Mosley, allegedly charged toward the officer with a “dark metal object” in his hand, the off-duty officer said.

The officer, an eight-year veteran of the police department, said he shot once at Mosley, who fell down the steps. Read more »

Fallen Philly Cop Robert Wilson Honored with Medal of Valor

President Barack Obama presents Constance Wilson, grandmother of fallen Philadelphia Police Department Sgt, Robert Wilson III with his Medal of Valor during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, May 16, 2016. Photo | Carolyn Kaster, AP

President Barack Obama presents Constance Wilson, grandmother of fallen Philadelphia Police Department Sgt, Robert Wilson III with his Medal of Valor during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, May 16, 2016. Photo | Carolyn Kaster, AP

The White House ceremony was nice, but oh, how Sgt. Robert Wilson‘s family wishes they hadn’t needed to be there for it.

President Barack Obama bestowed Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor awards today on 13 police officers for having displayed selfless bravery in the face of danger. Wilson was the first member of the Philadelphia Police Department to be tapped for the honor; he was the only honoree to receive the award posthumously.

Wilson, 30, was killed in a gun battle with two armed robbers that erupted inside a North Philly GameStop on March 5, 2015. Wilson had stopped at the store, Obama noted, to buy a present for his then-8-year-old son, who had done well at school. Brothers Ramon Williams and Carlton Hipps were charged with Wilson’s murder, but have yet to go to trial.

Read more »

3 Men Wanted for Assaulting School Police Officers

Suspects in police assault

Still images of suspects from Philadelphia Police Department

Three men attacked teens leaving Northeast High School — then turned their attack on school police officers who intervened, according to Philadelphia Police.

The assaults happened on Monday at 3:30 as school was dismissing. Police say two school police officers were escorting students out of the school — a normal activity — when they saw two adults attacking a Northeast student. The cops ran over and stopped the fight.

That’s when an argument happened between the two adults and the school police officers. Police say the two men began pushing and shoving the officers, eventually throwing one of the school cops to the ground and punching the other in the face. A third man then joined the fray; according to police, “all three began to pummel the officers.” Read more »

Flyers, Philly Fans Embarrass Selves in Playoff Loss

Members of the Philadelphia Flyers Ice Crew pick up wristbands that were thrown onto the ice during the third period against the Washington Capitals in game three of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center.

Members of the Philadelphia Flyers Ice Crew pick up wristbands that were thrown onto the ice during the third period against the Washington Capitals in game three of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center.

The Philadelphia Flyers and St. Louis Blues once played a game on January 6th of 1972. The Flyers, an expansion squad in its fifth season, were two years away from the first of the franchise’s only two Stanley Cups. It was Fred Shero‘s first year as coach. The Flyers were ahead, 2-0, after two periods, when a riot broke out.

Blues coach Al Arbour — the third employed by St. Louis that season — chased after the ref toward the dressing room. He was complaining about the way the puck was dropped on a face-off earlier in the game. As he berated the ref in the exit runway, a fan reached over and poured a beer over Albour’s head. (Stadium beer was cheaper in those days.)

The incident is recalled in fantastic detail in Glen Macnow and Anthony L. Gargano’s The Great Philadelphia Fan Book. The authors even got Ed Snider to comment on the incident.

“Fans started cursing the Blues and throwing things,” he said. “Then Arbour reached over into the seats and some cop hit him over the head with a billy club. Well, that was it. It became instant mayhem.”

The Blues players rushed to the tunnel entrance, defending their coach. Led by Bob Plager, Blues players rushed into the stands and began fighting fans. One-hundred fifty police officers had to be called in to quell the mayhem. Blues defenseman John Arbour, no relation to the coach, needed 40 stitches. Three Blues players, and coach Arbour, were arrested.

“That was the worst case of police brutality I’ve ever seen or heard about,” Blues owner Sidney Salomon told the Daily News. “It was worse than the riot in Chicago at the convention.” Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo was his usual self: “This community will not tolerate hooliganism. We probably didn’t need our police officers in that situation. I believe our residents could have taken care of the matter on their own.”

Snider bailed the Blues players out of jail. As he told the authors of the book, he was angrier at the way his team reacted than with the fans. The Flyers gave up three goals in the third period and lost to the Blues, 3-2. “I was angry,” Snider said. “Not about the fight, so much as the game. Blowing a two-goal lead made me sick.” The embarrassing fight and loss were on Snider’s 39th birthday. Read more »

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