Arrest in dismemberment case


A dismembered man found stuffed into garbage bags in the basement of a rowhome died of blunt force trauma to the head, officials said.

The remains of John Thistlewood, 26, from the 2400 block of South Lawrence Street, were found Aug. 23 by police inside neighbor Robert Fowler’s house on the 2400 block of South Fourth Street, Detective Joe Chiaro of South Detectives said.

The same day of the gruesome find, Fowler, 40, was arrested and charged with murder and related offenses.

Some time Aug. 20, the victim went to Fowler’s home and an argument ensued, during which the suspect allegedly picked up a dumbbell and bludgeoned Thistlewood to death, Sgt. Tim Cooney of the Homicide Division said. A police source told the Review Thistlewood had offered Fowler drugs in exchange for sex with Fowler’s live-in girlfriend, but Cooney would not confirm that.

"That would be part of [Fowler’s] statement [to police] that I cannot release information on," the sergeant said.

Three days later and hours before police made the macabre discovery at about 2:30 p.m., Fowler allegedly dismembered the corpse, Cooney said. Detectives recovered a bloody hand saw and various kitchen knives from the dwelling, the sergeant said. "There was no indication a chain saw was used," Cooney said, addressing published reports Fowler used the electronic device to dismember Thistlewood.

At about 2 p.m. Aug. 23, the suspect’s 41-year-old brother Anthony Fowler called South Detectives saying he wanted them to check out his sibling’s dwelling because he thought a body might be inside, Chiaro said. A police source told the Review the suspect may have asked his brother for help in disposing of Thistlewood. A foul stench greeted police when they arrived at the dwelling, Cooney said, adding the suspect was home at the time, but not his girlfriend, who owns the dwelling, or her 7-month-old baby.

In attempts to explain the odor to neighbors and his girlfriend, Fowler allegedly said there were some dead cats in the basement he needed to get rid of, the sergeant said. Entering that part of the house, police saw several sealed plastic trash bags and blood and hair in their surrounding area, Chiaro said. Homicide detectives are still trying to determine how Fowler intended to dispose of the bags, Cooney said.

Fowler was transported to police headquarters for questioning, where he was charged later that day.

Ambushed in car

While waiting in a vehicle at a traffic light on the 2500 block of Moore Street, a 25-year-old was shot twice.

A green Chevy Tahoe pulled alongside the victim’s car at about 2:15 p.m. Friday, Detective Joe Chiaro of South Detectives said. A male passenger unloaded a half-dozen shots, striking the victim in the left chest and left arm. He went to Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in stable condition.

Authorities recovered two, 9mm cartridges at the scene.

The shooter is described as a being 25 to 30 years old and having facial hair. Police have no description of the driver.

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

Pistol-whipped and shot

A man was walking on the 2800 block of Sheridan Street when two men approached him shortly after 11:30 p.m. Aug. 23 and beat him with a gun and then shot him, Detective Joe Chiaro of South Detectives said.

After firing several rounds, the shooters fled on foot.

Suffering from gunshots to the chest and stomach, the 36-year-old victim was admitted to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in stable condition.

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

Cabbie robbed

Two teens hailed a taxi and then held-up its driver early Friday on the 2200 block of Mildred Street.

The perpetrators pulled a gun and demanded money after being picked up by the Olde City Taxi driver at about 4:55 a.m. on the 1900 block of Moyamensing Avenue, Detective Joe Chiaro of South Detectives said. When the 30-year-old refused, the pair struck him in the back of the head and helped themselves to $60 and a cell phone, police said. The driver sustained a bump on the head, but did not seek hospital treatment.

The assailants were described as white and 16 to 18 years old with blond hair. One was 5-foot-10, 160 pounds and wearing a white T-shirt; the other was 5-foot-11, 180 pounds and had on an orange T-shirt.

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

Beaten and mugged

When a 46-year-old ignored a man trying to rob him at about 12:20 a.m. last Thursday, the perpetrator picked up a wooden board and struck the victim in the head, police said.

The offender approached the man on the 1300 block of Fitzwater Street and asked how much money he had, Detective Joe Chiaro of South Detectives said. After getting no response, the thief clobbered the victim, knocking him to the ground. Fishing through his pockets, the assailant found $30.

The victim did not go to the hospital.

The attacker is described as black, 20 to 25, 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans.

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