Detectives say a suspected killer rapist who preyed on women in Delaware County and Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood this year inadvertently gave them the key to his capture: They followed his blood trail.
Byron Shamor Allen Jr. so viciously slashed Natasha Gibson, 32, to death in Yeadon that he injured himself and left a mile-long trail of blood when he fled the scene of the Sept. 22 crime into Southwest Philadelphia, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said. Investigators following the trail found plenty of other evidence that Allen allegedly tried to hide along the way: a bloody serrated steak knife dumped in a sewer, Gibson’s purse and identification cards, and a bloody baseball bat, Whelan said Wednesday at the Delaware County Courthouse in Media, where he announced Allen’s arrest on murder charges.
Detectives swabbed the evidence for DNA — and recently discovered it matched both Allen and the evidence in the brutal attack on a prostitute in Kensington in October, Whelan said. Investigators then linked Allen to three other unsolved attacks since April on prostitutes in Kensington, in which the attacker choked or slashed and robbed the victims, said Capt. Mark Burgmann, of the Philadelphia police special victims unit.
Allen also is the prime suspect in the unsolved July 19 murder of Rickie Morgan, 35, a prostitute and mother who was bludgeoned and stabbed on Cumberland Street near Jasper in Kensington, Burgmann said.
“We’re looking at everything,” Burgmann said, referring to unsolved assaults and murders. “He preys on women.”
Allen, 37, of the 1800 block of 73rd Street in the Oak Lane neighborhood of Philadelphia, now is being held without bail on charges of murder, criminal homicide, robbery, and possessing instruments of crime.
He has been in custody in Philadelphia since Oct. 13 for the Kensington cases.
Allen allegedly robbed Gibson and one of the Kensington victims, but, said Whelan, “we don’t believe the motive for this murder was robbery. This is a callous, brutal, heinous crime. It’s a devastating murder … The motive is rage and attack. There’s no rhyme or reason why he would so viciously attack this woman [Gibson]. The motive is the stalking in the night, the sport of killing.”
Allen didn’t know any of the women he is suspected of attacking, Whelan said. He approached his Kensington victims seeking sex, Burgmann said.
Investigators don’t know why he picked Gibson, the mother of an 11-year-old girl, to prey upon; he attacked her just after 3 a.m. Sept. 22 outside her friend’s home on Baily Road in Yeadon, where she’d walked after visiting an Upper Darby tavern, Whelan said. When she failed to show up, the friend ventured outside and found her collapsed and bloodied on his front steps, Whelan said. She had been stabbed at least 20 times in the neck, chest and face, Whelan said.
“We believe Byron Allen randomly selected this young innocent woman as his victim, following her in the dark of night and ruthlessly stabbing her multiple times on the front steps of her friend’s home,” Whelan said.
Besides the blood trail and DNA evidence, several security cameras along Allen’s alleged flight path helped detectives crack the case, Whelan said.
One camera on Church Lane caught images of a man in a T-shirt and baseball cap and carrying a baseball bat. Another — in a convenience store on Catharine Street — caught the same man, his hand bleeding, buying a 16-ounce bottle of Steel Reserve beer, Whelan said.
A history of attacks
This wasn’t Allen’s first brush with the law. Records show he has convictions for attempted murder, aggravated assault, robbery and related offenses. In 2003, he was sentenced to 19 years in prison for a three-year-old attempted murder case, but he got released in September 2015 and started “a brand-new [crime] spree,” Whelan said.
“This is probably the most dangerous criminal I have ever seen in my years here in Delaware County as the district attorney,” Whelan said.
The Philadelphia attacks started on April 19, when a man with a box cutter attacked a 45-year-old woman at Braddock and Toronto streets in such a brutal throat-slashing that the woman’s trachea and vocal cords were severed, Burgmann said. She survived only because she played dead, waited until her attacker left and then flagged down passing drivers for help, Det. Jim Owens said.
Three assaults followed on July 12 on the 3800 block of Jasper Street; late July on the 3100 block of Jasper Street; and Oct. 1 at Ruth and Somerset streets.
These victims, all of whom survived, ranged in age from 21 to 45 and were petite in stature, Owens said.
Kensington has endured a serial attacker before: In 2010, police arrested Antonio Rodriguez, known as the “Kensington Strangler,” for killing three prostitutes and posing their corpses for police to find. Rodriguez was linked to attacks on five other women who survived, police said.