Mt. Airy man charged with fatally stabbing popular Roxborough-synagogue member

Ronald Fischman was fatally stabbed in his East Mt. Airy home on Tuesday night. (Photo from Fischman's Facebook page)

Ronald Fischman was fatally stabbed in his East Mt. Airy home on Tuesday night. (Photo from Fischman's Facebook page)

Ronald Fischman, a popular member of Roxborough’s Mishkan Shalom synagogue, was fatally stabbed inside his East Mt. Airy home during an apparent home-invasion robbery late Tuesday night.


Police announced Thursday that they had arrested and charged a 33-year-old Mt. Airy man in connection with the slaying that occurred in the 200 block of E. Phil Ellena St.

Jonathan Williams has been charged with murder, burglary and other offenses in connection with the fatal stabbing that drew police to the home just after 11:15 p.m. Tuesday.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

According to a report in the Inquirer, witnesses at the scene reported that they’d seen Williams leaving the 54-year-old victim’s home before police arrived.

Fischman described himself on his website as a “ghost-writer, editor and novelist.” His Facebook page notes that he worked as an editor at GGIS Publishing and Media.

His book of poetry, titled “My Book of Days” is set to release on Oct. 24. 

Mishkan Shalom’s lead rabbi, Shawn Zevit, said Fischman, an ordained cantor, was an integral part of the synagouge community and an activist for causes he believed in — like climate change and voter engagement. 

“It is a terrible loss. There is a lot of shock and grief. He was a very beloved member of our community,” Zevit said, adding that just days ago Fischman led various parts of the synagogue’s Rosh Hashana services. 

According to Zevit, Fischman will be buried alongside his father in Pittsburgh. The synagogue plans to hold a memorial in his honor in the coming weeks. 

Williams, aka John Brown, was tentatively scheduled for an Oct. 22 preliminary hearing.

According to court records, he has served time in connection with a guilty plea to conspiracy charges in a 2011 burglary case and was sentenced to two years of probation in connection with a 2012 shoplifting charge.

Williams was awaiting an Oct. 14 probation-violation hearing at the time of Fischman’s killing.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal