What Happened Next: Police and fire

NewsWorks went back to check in on several of the stories it covered in 2012. These “What Happened Next” updates will run throughout December.

Early morning fire destroys Chelten Avenue flower shop, Feb. 1

The story: In February, a fast-moving fire displaced a Germantown flower shop.

The fire at Flowers by Janette, located at 921-23 E. Chelten Ave., was reported at 1:27 a.m. and placed under control 28 minutes later, leaving a charred shell of a building missing half of its roof. ATF investigators were on the scene afterward investigating the fire.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

No injuries were reported, but two men who lived in a building behind the store, connected by an elevated walkway, received help from the American Red Cross to find shelter.

What Happened Next: Reinforcing statements made by PFD shortly after the February fire, PFD Battalion Chief William Dell confirmed this month that the cause of the blaze remained “undetermined,” which he explained can occur in the case of a fire where there is an absence of definitive evidence that could be substantiated in court.

Dell added that an ATF dog was present on the scene following the fire but had no “hits,” or findings of evidence.

The building has since been knocked down. (Matthew Grady/for NewsWorks)

Mother hopes Germantown murder victim ‘finds the peace that she didn’t get in her life’, May 30

The story: Nearly seven months ago, a young woman’s body was found near SEPTA’s Wister Station in East Germantown by a woman walking her dog.

The victim was Candace “Candy” Holmes, a 25-year-old West Oak Lane woman who was also the mother of four young children.

Police reports indicated that she was strangled to death on the 5100 block of Rufe St., her body found wrapped in a sheet and without shoes. The latter struck the family as odd when NewsWorks spoke to them in late May stating she had just been given a brand new pair of flip flops.

During the visit, Holmes’ mother and sister, who did not want to be identified, recounted her last visit to the family’s home. They said she was in high spirits and ready to check into a rehabilitation center for drug addiction and pursue a career in cosmetology. They described her as a loving, caring and easy-going person who loved to sing.

What Happened Next: Police say there have been no new developments in the Holmes case since the story was first covered back in May. Calls to the Holmes family went unreturned. (Yasmein James/for NewsWorks)

Fire-damaged Black Olive building remains eyesore one year later, June 14

The Story: On June 14, 2011, firefighters responded to a serious blaze that broke out at a second floor apartment at 24. E. Mt. Airy Ave.

No one was injured in the electrical fire but the building suffered some extreme damage.

Despite a series of notices from the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspection, however, no repairs have been completed to date, leaving the neighborhood with quite an eyesore.

The property is owned by Ina Walker who, along with Hugh C. Clark, pleaded guilty to taking more than $522,000 from New Media Technology Charter School, which she helped found.

Clark was the Cedarbrook school’s other founder. Walker and Clark also pleaded guilty to defrauding Wilmington Savings Bank of more than $300,000. Walker used the loan to purchase 22-24 E. Mt. Airy Ave.

What Happened Next? On Aug. 15, the property was auctioned off during a Sheriff’s Sale.

Though a bidder made an offer, a deal was never completed, according to Jennifer Leonard, chief of staff with the city’s Law Department.

Per city policy, the identity of the bidder was not disclosed given that the property was never officially sold.

Leonard said the Sheriff’s Office is looking to put up the property again in February. (Aaron Moselle)

Geraldine Cherry deemed incompetent to stand trial for the alleged murder of her Roxborough roommate, July 31

The Story: On June 10, Kathleen McEwan’s body was discovered at an apartment complex on the 300 block of Parker Ave. in Roxborough. The cause of death was determined to be by natural causes.

That changed to homicide, however, in the days afterwards when a funeral-parlor employee discovered a series of unusual items had been lodged in the 70-year-old’s throat. The list included a thin piece of rope and a candy wrapper.

On June 20, Geraldine Cherry was arrested for allegedly killing McEwan, her roommate.

Since then, she has remained incompetent to stand trial.

What Happened Next? Gregg Blender, Cherry’s attorney, doesn’t expect his client to become competent in the near future.

“She needs some serious mental-health intervention,” Blender told NewsWorks.

Waiting for a bed at Norristown State Hospital since her arrest, Cherry is currently being held in the Health Services Wing at a Philadelphia Prison System facility on State Road.

Blender said Cherry’s mental state isn’t likely to improve until she gets to Norristown, where she can receive more specialized treatment. Certain prescription medications, for example, aren’t handed out in prison.

“She’s number one on the waiting list and she probably won’t be there by the next listing,” he said.

A status hearing is scheduled for Jan. 16. (Aaron Moselle) 

Man shot and killed in West Oak Lane, Aug. 28 

The story: On a Tuesday afternoon in August, a 36-year-old man was shot and killed in the 7400 block of Limekiln Pike.

The victim, later identified as Renford Levy of the 7100 block of Dungan Road in Northeast Philadelphia, was shot at least 10 times in the face, neck, trunk and lower limbs, according to Chief Inspector Scott Small. He was pronounced dead at the scene in the city’s Stenton neighborhood.

Police did not have a description of the shooter an hour later, but were reportedly seeking two or three suspects who may have fled in a vehicle. Witnesses indicated to police that the suspects — two males between 5-feet 7-inches and 5-feet 11-inches in height — fled toward the 7400 block of Forest Ave. At least one may have gotten into a white Chevy Traverse with Maryland tags.

Police believed that the deceased, who was seated with another person, was shot at point-blank range and was the intended target. Small said initial reports suggest the murder may be related to a domestic dispute, but did not offer further details.

NewsWorks contributor Solomon Jones based his first piece on Levy’s murder.

What Happened Next? In December, the case remains open, with police confirming that no arrests have been made. (Matt Grady/for NewsWorks)

Police investigate fatal shooting in East Mt. Airy, Sept. 4 

The story: On Sept. 2, Rhodphy Hakeem Rice III, 32, was shot to death while seated in his black Nissan Maxima outside of his East Hortter Street home. He was later pronounced dead at Albert Einsten Medical Center as a result of multiple gunshot wounds to his head and body. Rice’s murder contributed to a summer plagued by gun violence in Philadelphia. 

Just weeks earlier, on July 27, Nafis Armstead, 23, was gunned down on East Sharpnack Street, one block away from where Rice was killed.

Then, on Aug. 13, 21-year-old Shahid Hawkins of Cedarbrook, was shot in the face on the 1200 block of East Upsal St. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Hawkins was the third shooting victim in a seven-hour period in Northwest Philadelphia that summer weekend.

What happened next? Officer Jillian Russell, spokeswoman for the Philadelphia Police, said the murders of Rice and Hawkins remain under active investigation, with no arrests and no known motives. Police have arrested and charged one man in connection to Armstead’s shooting.

According to police data, gun violence accounts for around 82 percent of the 309 homicides this year, up six percent from 2011. (Jana Shea/for NewsWorks)


Germantown shopkeeper shot multiple times at point-blank range, Sept. 13

The story: In September, NewsWorks reported on a shooting at Pops Dollar Plus Store on the 4900 block of Germantown Ave. in Germantown. 

The victim, a 46-year-old male and owner of the store, was seated outside on the sidewalk when at least nine shots from a semi-automatic handgun were fired at point-blank range. He suffered multiple wounds to the arms, legs, and torso.

No motive was presented, but police said that the victim was, in all likelihood, the intended target. He was taken to Einstein Medical Center where he was last listed in critical condition.

What Happened Next: This month, police confirmed that no arrests have been made in the case.

They reiterated that a suspect, a black male, 30 to 35 years of age, between 5-feet 4-inches and 5-feet 8-inches tall with a chubby build and a full beard, who was wearing dark clothing at the time, is still wanted in connection with the shooting.

He was last seen the night of the crime getting into a red minivan. (Matthew Grady/for NewsWorks)

East Oak Lane family loses everything in blaze sparked by Sandy [Video], Nov. 2

The Story: As Hurricane Sandy’s outer bands whipped winds into Philadelphia on Oct. 29, they contributed to sparking a fire that ravaged the East Oak Lane home of the Folk family.

It left Ben Folk, his wife, five children (ranging in age from 14 months to 14 years old), two dogs and a cat without shelter or any of their most valuable possessions.

Ben Folk’s employer (Lockheed Martin) and his children’s schools (Green Woods Charter and Central High) both sprung into action, providing material items, clothes, toys and support to a family in need.

What Happened Next: Less than a month later, Ben Folk told NewsWorks that the family has found temporary shelter on Benezet Street in Chestnut Hill. They are still awaiting word from the insurance company about what will be covered.

Folk went back to work Nov. 26 for the first time since the blaze.

“It’s still a crappy situation, but we’re surrounded by great folks,” he said. “Lockheed Martin is still awesome, and the best place to work in our solar system. Green Woods Charter is terrific, and the people associated with the school keep giving and giving. Central High School is greater than great. We could not have made it through this without any of them.” (Brian Hickey)

If you have any stories from 2012 that you’d like NewsWorks to follow up on, let us know at nwproducers@whyy.org.

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