Victim of Fairmount Park Slaying Has Been Identified
Police have identified the woman who was found dead in Fairmount Park early Tuesday morning as Toy Charda Bryant, age 26, of Chester. Police say there are no updates at this time on the investigation of who killed Bryant.
Bryant was found face down and handcuffed, approximately 10 feet from the road. At a press conference yesterday afternoon, Homicide Capt. James Clark ran through a list of injuries the woman had sustained: one stab wound in her upper left torso, multiple stab wounds in her back, defensive wounds on her hands, and a gunshot wound on the back of her head. She also has three tattoos: the word “Loyal” on her chest, “Ka$h” on her right wrist, and a rose on her right thigh.
While investigators believe the victim’s body was dumped in the park after the crime was committed elsewhere, Bryant’s murder is the latest case in a considerable history of murder and violence in Fairmount Park over the last two decades. Most notably this includes the unsolved cases attributed to the fiend known as the Fairmount Park Rapist. Thirteen years after the first attack, the search for the man responsible for three sexual assaults remains unsolved.
“We don’t believe this has anything to do with that,” Clark said. “Obviously anytime we have jobs in that area we take a look at it but right now we don’t believe this has anything to do with that.”
The Fairmount Park Rapist’s reign of terror began on April 30, 2003, when a 21-year-old woman was raped at knifepoint. Three months later, 30-year-old medical student Rebecca Park was raped and strangled, and her body found four days later. In October of the same year, a 37 year old woman was attacked on West River Drive and managed to escape, giving police a description matching that of the man responsible for the previous crimes.
Four years passed without another incident that could be linked to the serial offender until a woman was raped near Frankford Avenue in Pennypack Park in August 2007. Despite this shift in location, DNA evidence eventually linked all four assaults.
In 2013, members of the Special Victims Unit attempted to revive the investigation by handing out flyers and talking to passerby along Kelly Drive, soliciting tips and generating awareness. The last sketch released by police in April of that year showed a Hispanic man of muscular build. He was about 5-foot-8 with black hair, a thin mustache, and thick eyebrows. While his appearance has likely changed with age in the past several years, the sketch includes four scars on the upper left side of his body, including one on the left arm and two on the left shoulder.
This unidentified criminal is not the only one to wreak havoc in Philadelphia’s parks. Robert Palen, dubbed the Pennypack Park Rapist, was responsible for two brutal rapes in August of 2010 and 2011, in Pennypack Park, less than 15 miles from Fairmount. A third victim, assaulted but not raped, in July 0f 2010 came forward to identify her assailant based on the published sketch. These cases also went unsolved until March 2013, when evidence matched a case in Madison, Wisconsin, where Palen was the subject of a rape investigation. Palen was transported to Philadelphia and convicted of two of the three attacks; the 2010 victim died of unrelated causes prior to the trial. Palen will be sentenced in Philadelphia August.
In November 2015, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation employees found the bodies of Shakoor Arline and Lisa Smith, nine bullets fired into the back of their vehicle in Fairmount Park by a still unidentified assailant.