2 arrested, charged in carjacking that killed 3 children in North Philadelphia

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The crimes shocked a city.

Now, two men have been charged in connection with a Friday morning carjacking that left three children dead and their mother in critical condition after a stolen SUV careened into a charity fruit stand.

Officials with the Police Department and District Attorney’s Office announced Monday afternoon that Cornelius Crawford, 23, and Jonathan Rosa, 19, each face three counts of second-degree murder, robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, sexual assault and other charges.

Those charges stem from an incident during which the duo allegedly forced a 45-year-old real estate agent into her Toyota 4Runner SUV near 6th and Cumberland streets, sexually assaulted her inside the vehicle and drove “at a high rate of speed” about a mile away, to the area of Germantown and Allegheny avenues.

There, according to investigators, Crawford lost control of the vehicle when a tire blew out while trying to turn onto Germantown from Allegheny and drove into a group of three children and two adults at the fruit stand they set up to raise funds for their church.

Killed at the scene was 10-year-old Thomas Reed. His sister Keiearra Williams, 15, and Terrence Moore, 7, would later die at area hospitals.

Their mother, Keisha Williams, remained in critical condition at Temple University Hospital on Monday. The kidnapping victim, whose name is being withheld by NewsWorks, also remained hospitalized.

The investigation

After the SUV crashed, the two men took off running, but Homicide Unit Capt. James Clark said tips from the community — including numerous descriptions and offers of video surveillance — and a cellphone left at the scene (Rosa’s) led them to the suspects.

Accompanied by his mother and pastor, Rosa turned himself in to authorities on Sunday; Crawford was taken into custody behind 2906 N. 6th St. “without incident,” on that night, according to Clark.

Speaking at a Monday afternoon press conference about the arrests were Clark, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, District Attorney Seth Williams, Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison and Jennifer Selber, head of the DA’s homicide unit.

Ramsey thanked the public for their collaboration in the wake of the tragedy. Clark broke down the chronology of events, laid out the charges filed against Crawford and Rosa, and said “this is one of the saddest, most tragic cases” he’s seen in more than six years as captain of the homicide unit.

He said a civilian found a cellphone at the scene and brought it to police. At that point, “we knew who we were looking for.”

The arrests and beyond

Williams reiterated how police, including Homicide Unit Det. Edward Tolliver, and the public worked together in “bringing these bastards to justice.”

Crawford and Rosa, who reportedly only knew one another for a week prior to Friday, face life in prison if convicted in the case.

Speaking to NBC10, Rosa’s attorney Christopher Warren said his client is cooperating with investigators.

“He turned himself in and he is doing everything in his power to try and atone for what happened last Friday,” Warren said. “Quite frankly, he’s having an extremely difficult time getting over the image of that 15-year-old girl coming over the hood of the car.”

However, at the press conference, Clark said that the crimes are “indefensible” and that “no level of remorse … will bring the children back. What they did was indefensible and unforgivable.”

In 2007, Crawford was sentenced to 5 to 13 years in prison after pleading guilty in a robbery case. He had recently been paroled, investigators said Monday.

Williams said during the press conference that former Sixer Charles Barkley called and offered to pay for the funerals of the three deceased children.

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