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Between our city’s allegedly corrupt cops and some criminals’ serious inability to carry out what they’re trying to do, it’s been a strange and memorable year in Philadelphia crime. Social media sleuths helped police investigate a hate crime, police brought home a woman who was viciously kidnapped and Meek Mill went to prison for doing some pretty dumb things.
In no particular order, here are 13 of the most memorable crimes of 2014:
1. Key Pizza counter lady to would-be robber: “No”
Don’t f– with the woman who works behind the counter at Key Pizza. Seriously, some dude tried to rob the Fishtown pizzeria that sits on the 2300 block of East York Street on Oct. 29, but he got away with nothing. The man was caught on surveillance walking into the shop, pointing a handgun across the counter and demanding money. Response from the hero behind the counter? “No.”
As far as we know, police never caught this cowardly would-be robber. But this Fishtown woman wins pizza clerk of the year award.
2. Outrage after a pregnant Frankford woman was killed by a stray bullet
Megan Doto, a 26-year-old Frankford woman, was about a month away from giving birth when she was shot and killed by a stray bullet while babysitting in the neighborhood. Shortly after Doto was killed, her unborn child Nicoletta Rose died. Police named 26-year-old Devon Guisherd as the prime suspect in the killing, alleging he fired 11 shots down the 1400 block of Adams Street while trying to hit a passing car. Some $6,000 in donations poured in to pay for the mother and daughter’s funerals.
After an arrest warrant and a manhunt by police, Guisherd was never found.
3. #FindCarlesha: Germantown kidnapping makes national headlines
#FindCarlesha went viral on social media in November after Carlesha Freeland-Gaither, 22, was violently abducted in Germantown and dragged into a car that sped away. Less than 72 hours later, she was rescued from a man police called “a violent predator.” She was found inside a car with 36-year-old Delvin Barnes in Jessup, Md. and was in good condition when she was rescued by officials. Police said Barnes attacked Freeland-Gaither at random, and he also had an outstanding warrant for allegedly murdering a 16-year-old in Virginia.
4. Someone stole all of the SEPTA tokens
An apparently very stealthy Philadelphia social worker stole $18,000 in SEPTA tokens from the Department of Human Services. Think about that for a second: 10,000 SEPTA tokens. The tonnage alone, people.
Shamira Hawkins-Worthey, 30, turned herself into police in October. Officials say part of her job was to distribute SEPTA tokens to agency clients, except Hawkins-Worthey just … kept them. District Attorney Seth Williams on the matter: “I have no words.” Same, bro.
5. Woman shot for her purse in No Libs
The nation was horrified in January when 26-year-old architect Amber Long was shot dead in an attempted purse-snatching that happened in front of her mother. The two were on Front Street in Northern Liberties, a relatively safe neighborhood, when they were approached by two men demanding money. When Long refused to turn over her purse (worth just $14), she was shot dead. A reward to find her killer climbed over $50,000, but no one was ever arrested.
6. Maria Quinones-Sanchez’ house set on fire
Political rumors swirled in March when Philadelphia Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez’ Norris Square home was set on fire to the point where the windows were blown out from the intense heat. Her neighbor Edwin Diana, 23, lived less than two blocks from the councilwoman and was charged in connection with the arson. Police said the fire was set in the commission of a burglary and that Diana allegedly made away with jewelry and electronics.
7. Beanie Sigel shot down the shore
Philly rapper Beanie Sigel, a former close associate of Jay-Z, was shot earlier this month in a house at the Jersey Shore. He remains hospitalized and is on a ventilator following surgery on his torso, but police tell NBC10 that the case to find the rapper’s shooter remains “wide open.” Police say they have a number of persons of interest in the case — including Sigel’s sister-in-law — but are facing uncooperative witnesses and others who may have been involved.
8. Meek Mill violates probation, gets tossed in jail
Philly rapper Meek Mill was sent to prison to serve a three-to-six-month sentence this summer after his probation violations were aired during a four-hour hearing. The rapper apparently forgot he needed approval by a judge to go out of town — approval he didn’t get before traveling to rap out-of-state. According to the Daily News, Meek Mill also “failed to provide his probation officer with a working phone number, posted disparaging remarks on Twitter about the probation officer and the prosecutor assigned to his case, was ‘combative’ and ‘disrespectful’ to probation staffers during a May 15 meeting and posed for a picture posted on Instagram holding a gun while two other men also held guns.” ICYMI: He was released earlier this month.
9. A.G. Kane drops corruption sting, D.A. Williams picks it up — charges get filed
Three Philadelphia elected officials are facing criminal charges of public corruption after being charged by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams in connection with an undercover sting operation. State Reps. Vanessa Lowery Brown and Ronald G. Waters face charges for allegedly accepting cash from an undercover operative in addition to Traffic Judge Thomasine Tynes who faces similar charges. The sting and its abandonment were first uncovered in March by the Inquirer, which reported that Attorney General Kathleen Kane dropped the probe that would have implicated members of her party. Kane’s defended the decision, saying the investigation was botched from the beginning. Obviously Seth Williams disagrees.
10. Philly cops charged with corruption
Six Philadelphia police officers were arrested over the summer on corruption charges — federal officials said the cops stole half a million dollars worth of money and drugs from suspects over a period of several years. The same officers could end up costing the city millions, as they’re named in more than 80 civil lawsuits filed against the city. The lawsuits paint a picture of narco cops allegedly running around Philly doing horrible things like locking a dude in their trunk, subjecting a juvenile to a strip search in front of their family and planting drugs.
11. Mission:Impossible burglars attempt to take Target, fail miserably
Trying to rob a place Mission: Impossible style doesn’t always work. Earlier this month, a coupla would-be Target burglars were caught in an air duct in a Northeast Philly store. Daniel Bethea, 36, and Daniel McMillan Jr., 38, faces charges of burglary, criminal conspiracy and trespassing.
12. Big-shot Harrisburg lobbyist charged with sexual assault
A high-level political operative in Philadelphia was charged in connection with a September incident in which police say he assaulted a woman in his Center City office. Andrew Marsico, 40, faces charges of aggravated indecent assault without consent, unlawful restraint, and false imprisonment. A woman told police that Marsico assaulted her after she went to his Greenlee Partners office at the Bellevue Hotel at 10 p.m. one night for a purported job interview. Marsico, who is married to 6ABC reporter Annie McCormick, is set to stand trial after a judge bound over charges following a preliminary hearing on Nov. 20. Court records show he waived a formal arraignment. Marsico maintains his innocence.
13. Three suburban twentysomethings charged with beating gay couple
In what was likely the most widely reported-on Philadelphia crime of the year, three suburban twentysomethings were charged in September after they allegedly beat up a gay couple in Center City after slinging slurs at them for their sexual orientation. Kevin Harrigan, Kathryn Knott and Philip Williams were charged by police and will stand trial following a preliminary hearing that took place earlier this week. They maintain their innocence. But the case garnered national attention not only for the hate-crimey nature of the incident, but because social media sleuths including the now-famous @FanSince09 helped contribute to the police work in tracking down the alleged perpetrators.