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Police Find At Least 6 Decomposed Bodies In Philadelphia Apartment

August 10, 1987

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Police discovered six decomposed or skeletal bodies and possibly a seventh Sunday in a bloody, trash-filled apartment that an evicted tenant nailed shut days ago, authorities said.

Officers continued hunting through the crime-ridden north Philadelphia neighborhood for the tenant Sunday night, although no warrant had been issued for his arrest, said Detective Jeff Piree.

The discovery occurred at 2 p.m. after the landlord complained about a stench coming from a third-floor apartment in the building, said Detective Robert McGarry.

The tenant, who had lived in the apartment four years, had nailed his door shut from the outside and stalked out of the building after the landlord’s nephew ordered him to leave Wednesday or Thursday, police said.

The 30-year-old tenant ″is not even a suspect yet,″ McGarry said. ″We are looking for him to see if he can shed any light on this.″

The owner, who lived in the first floor of the building, called police at about 1 p.m. Sunday, saying the stench coming from the third-story apartment ″was getting worse, and the guy hadn’t returned,″ said McGarry.

Through a crack in the door, police saw bodies and blood on the floor and walls, McGarry said. An initial search produced two women’s bodies, one naked and the other partially clothed, McGarry said.

Buried under garbage were the skeletal remains of three more bodies, one wrapped in a sheet.

″The apartment is totally trashed over. It has all kinds of debris and garbage in there, and they were found mixed in among that stuff,″ McGarry said.

Inside a closet police found the skeletal remains of another body, which appeared to have been tied up, and beneath the remains debris that appeared to be a seventh body, McGarry said.

The city medical examiner will conduct autopsies, probably Monday, but police do not expect the information to lead to identifications.

″We have five skeletons and two badly decomposed bodies,″ McGarry said. ″I don’t think we can make an indentification from them.″

Police said they would not term the deaths murder until the medical examiner released results of the autopsies.

But, before police finished their search, Piree said, ″Let’s face facts - five bodies were found in one location at one time. It’s certainly suspicious.″

Police would not release the names of the tenant or owner. They also declined to disclose information gleaned from neighbors.

Resident Elizabeth Williams said she was not surprised by the deaths. In the north Philadelphia neighborhood ″anything goes,″ she said.

″I expect to see three or four (dead) people every week,″ she said.

A neighbor who declined to identify himself said the tenant was ″not a pleasant fellow - he seemed dangerous.″

Police said the house was in the center of a high-crime area known for drug activity.

″I have information that there are several shooting galleries in the neighborhood,″ McGarry said, referring to drug centers. ″I don’t know if this house was one.″

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