Philadelphia authorities have arrested and charged a 31-year-old man with the murder of an elderly woman on the morning before Christmas inside the modest corner store that she owned and operated for more than four decades.
The suspect, Maurice Green, told police that the grandson of Marie Buck stole an expensive necklace chain from him. He wanted to be paid for it, but the money never arrived.
On Christmas Eve, Green sought retribution, police said.
He opened the door of Marie’s Grocery at Sixth and Titan streets just before 9 a.m., and, according to police, took one step inside of the store and shot Buck 11 times.
Buck was pronounced dead soon after at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
Buck’s grandson, who was supposed to be working at the South Philadelphia store on Christmas Eve, knew Green in connection with drug transactions, according to police.
“This is one of the more horrific murders I’ve dealt with,” said Philadelphia Police Homicide Capt. James Clark. “You have an 81-year-old grandmother, defenseless, who’s beloved by the community.”
It was an act of “pure evil,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said earlier Thursday.
Police said they have video footage of Green parking his vehicle and entering the corner store moments before the fatal shooting. Surveillance cameras also captured Green fleeing the scene, police said.
Buck and her husband, Michael, lived close to the store on the 1200 block of South Sixth Street.
Grieving neighbors, friends and other loved ones placed balloons and flowers on the steps of the Marie’s Grocery, where a “closed” sign hung on the shop’s black metal door.
Police arrested Green Wednesday night outside of 54th and Berks streets. Green has a lengthy criminal record, mostly from drug-related charges.
“This was just a horrific murder,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “We believe we have sufficient evidence to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”