Unsolved Murders Result in Grand Jury Summons
Philadelphia Inquirer via YellowBrix
September 18, 2010
CHESTER COUNTY – The Delaware County District Attorney’s Office has filed court papers requesting that a grand jury be summoned to investigate “a number of very public unsolved homicides” in Chester.
Fifteen of the 18 slayings in Chester this year remain unsolved, said Police Capt. Stephen Fox. Since 2004, the city has averaged 20 homicides a year.
The court filing notes “there are persons having relevant information . . . who have refused to cooperate with law enforcement in those open investigations.”
A grand jury can subpoena witnesses and initiate contempt proceedings.
“A lot of these cases are an inch away from being solved,” said Fox. “Information is slow in coming – people just don’t want to talk.”
A spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the request.
While some of the homicides are drug-related, police said, others have no apparent motive or involve innocent victims.
Early on June 14, for example, 2-year-old Terrance Webster was shot in the head as he returned home with his family. He died the next day.
In another case, William Miles, 45, was helping install a stereo in a friend’s car the night of Aug. 19 when another man shot them, killing Miles, police said.
And on Sept. 5, two men who had recently moved to Chester from North Carolina were killed, police said. Tyrone Thompson, 27, and his nephew Jeffrey Joyner, 19, were shot as they walked in the 2700 block of Kane Street.
In response to a spate of murders and violent crimes, city officials declared a state of emergency earlier this summer between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. for five high-crime areas. Police from various agencies, including Delaware County sheriff’s deputies, the state police, and U.S. marshals, were involved.
The grand jury could also be used to investigate crimes against the elderly. Those crimes are now investigated by the federally funded Pennsylvania Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which is headquartered in the county’s criminal investigation unit, the filing indicates.