Few clues in double shooting

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Investigators are asking the public’s help in solving the deaths of a young couple.

More than a week after a young woman and her boyfriend were found shot to death, homicide investigators have neither suspects nor a motive.

On Nov. 25 around 11 p.m., First District police responding to a report of gunfire on the 300 block of Winton Street found Natasha Dove, 19, and her boyfriend, Dana Taylor, 21, lying in the street, said Capt. Richard Ross of the Homicide Division.

Dove had suffered three gunshot wounds to the hand and head, while Taylor took one bullet to the neck, the captain said. The couple lived on the block on which they were slain.

Early reports stated that police were searching for possibly two gunmen. Several days later, reports surfaced that detectives were investigating the slayings as a murder-suicide.

Earlier this week, however, Ross said his division had not declared the deaths a murder-suicide.

"It’s very sketchy right now. Obviously we’re looking at witnesses and comparisons on ballistics evidence," Ross told the Review.

Casings were recovered at the scene, but the captain would not reveal the caliber, nor would he confirm police reports that a semiautomatic pistol had been found near the bodies.

Ross urged anybody with information to call the Homicide Division at 215-686-3334/3335.


Shot and torched

Whoever shot Allen Rice in the head ended the 39-year-old’s life there and then. But the killer went one step further by torching Rice’s body in the backseat of his Chevy pickup truck, police said.

Officers responding to a report of a truck fire found the charred body of the victim around 7 p.m. Nov. 25 on the 1900 block of South 24th Street, said Capt. Richard Ross of the Homicide Division.

The medical examiner cited the cause of death to be a single gunshot wound to the head.

The victim was from the 700 block of North 64th Street, the captain said.

To report information, call the Homicide Division at 215-686-3334/35.


Serviceman dies in crash

A traffic accident claimed the life of a U.S. Coast Guardsman who hailed from Alaska and was stationed locally, police said.

Eric Bourque, 23, from Ketchican, Alaska, was pronounced dead at the scene around 3 a.m. Sunday, said Sgt. George Golden of the Accident Investigation Division.

The victim was traveling north on Interstate-95 near the Packer Avenue off-ramp when he lost control of his 1997 Ford Explorer, the sergeant said.

Bourque’s SUV slammed into a concrete retaining wall, partially ejecting him from the driver’s seat. The victim wound up pinned between his vehicle and the wall, said Golden.

Investigators don’t believe Bourque was wearing a seat belt or if he was, he was not belted properly, the sergeant said.

The cause of the accident was unknown as of yesterday, and police are awaiting the results of toxicology reports.


Cop shoots armed man

A 55-year-old suspect remarkably survived two bullets fired at close range at his chest after a confrontation with police Monday night.

A 17th District officer unloaded the shots after the victim — who was armed with a knife — allegedly refused to drop the weapon and instead moved toward police with the knife raised, said Sgt. Steve Biello of South Detective Division.

The incident occurred after officers were called to a residence hall on the 900 block of South 20th Street to investigate a stabbing, the sergeant said.

According to the assigned detective, the hall is a boarding house for mentally challenged people.

When the officers arrived at 11 p.m., a 20-year-old female told them a man upstairs had been stabbed, said Biello.

On their way to the second floor, officers noticed blood on the stairs and heard two men arguing, the sergeant said. Then they noticed the 55-year-old standing in a bedroom doorway with knife in hand, added Biello.

The suspect, Irving Hanton, was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in police custody, the sergeant said. He was in stable condition.

Hanton is charged with multiple counts of aggravated and simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and making terroristic threats, among other offenses.

As it turned out, there was no stabbing after all. Blood spilled after Hanton and another man exchanged blows, with the offender allegedly socking the victim in the face, said Biello.


Teen shot in face

Investigators said they have little information in the shooting of a teen on the 2400 block of South Sheridan Street on Monday afternoon.

The 16-year-old victim was taken to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and admitted in stable condition for a gunshot wound to her cheek, said Sgt. Steve Biello of South Detectives. The bullet is still lodged in the teen’s cheek, added the sergeant.

The victim told police she was walking on the block around 3:45 p.m. when she was shot, yet didn’t see anybody with a gun or hear any gunfire, Biello said.

To report information, call South Detectives at 215-686-3013.


Robber already has cell

With a cell phone in one hand and a demand note in the other, a man robbed Wachovia Bank at 2039 S. 10th St. last Friday.

The FBI is seeking the public’s assistance in apprehending the cell-phone bandit who entered the bank around 10 a.m., said FBI spokesperson Linda Vizi.

Due to the contents of the note, the robber should be considered armed and dangerous, Vizi said.

The culprit made off with an undisclosed amount of money.

The suspect is 6 feet with a stocky build, in his late 30s/early 40s and was wearing a black baseball cap, black jacket and mirrored sunglasses.

To report information, call the FBI at 215-418-4000.


Held in stabbing death

A local man was ordered to stand trial for murder at a preliminary hearing last week for allegedly stabbing a 20-year-old inside a tavern.

Jason McMaster, 32, from the 2000 block of Emily Street, was charged with murder and possession of an instrument of crime in the Nov. 16 incident, said a spokesperson from the District Attorney’s Office. The defendant faces arraignment Dec. 17.

McMaster allegedly knifed Joseph Briglia, 20, inside Wolf Street Café at 1638 Wolf St.

Witnesses told police the two men were arguing during the Cowboys and Patriots game, said Lt. Joe Maum of the Homicide Division. Then McMaster left the bar, only to return with a knife and allegedly plunge it into Briglia’s neck, Maum said.

The victim, from the 2000 block of Shunk Street, was pronounced dead at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital 45 minutes after the 10:45 p.m. attack. First District officers nabbed McMaster shortly after the shooting on the 2100 block of McKean Street, said the lieutenant.


Thanksgiving tragedy

A woman in her 20s, her boyfriend and her six children escaped with nothing but the clothes on their back — and in some cases, less — after a fire destroyed most of their home the day before Thanksgiving.

One of the children, who range in age from 2 months to 8 years old, was wearing only boxer shorts, said neighbor Joanne Payne, who witnessed the ordeal. None of the kids managed to make it out wearing shoes, she added.

It wasn’t the first holiday tainted by tragedy for the family, who rented the home through the Section 8 program, said Payne.

On Oct. 30, 2002, the woman lost her seventh child to a crib death, the neighbor noted. Knowing that the victim kept the cremated remains of the baby in her home at 2620 S. Sheridan St., neighbors went back to the fire-ravaged dwelling on Thanksgiving and rescued the jar of ashes.

Remarkably, they were untouched by the fire that started in a second-floor master bedroom, said fire officials.

"That was a blessing. All her kids got out of there. To me, that was luck," Payne said.

The blaze started around 6:20 p.m. and was under control 10 minutes later, said Executive Fire Chief William Brightcliffe. The fire marshal cited the cause to be children playing with matches, the chief added.

"The whole master bedroom is completely gutted. I mean, there is nothing left. Not even a roof. Not a thing in that room is salvageable," Payne said. The entire first floor is water-damaged, she added.

The 2-month-old child was taken to CHOP, where she spent the night under observation, Payne said.

The Red Cross helped relocate the family, said Brightcliffe. According to Payne, the family is split up and living with relatives.

Payne and her husband, who have two young children, had planned to start their Christmas decorating last weekend but just couldn’t bring themselves to do it, she said. Every time they look out their front window, they are pained by the sight of the burned-out home across the street.

"I could not find it in my heart to decorate knowing that this family has nothing," she said.

Payne is in the process of setting up a fund for the family at Citizens Bank. In the meantime, anybody interested in donating clothes, toys or household furnishings to the victims can call Payne at 215-271-6048.