From a longtime politician being charged with corruption to a woman getting convicted for harming others via butt injection, there have been odd moments during the year in Philly crime.
And it’s been brutal, as well, from the gunning down of Officer Robert Wilson III to two transgender women being killed in a year that, as a whole, homicides are up compared to the prior one.
Here’s a look at 15 highlights from the year in Philly crime:
‘Black Madam’ convicted on butt injection charges
A woman who was known in her community as “The Black Madam” was convicted of third-degree murder earlier this year and will spend 10 to 20 years in prison for killing a woman and injuring another via butt injection. The woman, Padge-Victoria Windslowe, 43, called herself “the Michelangelo of butt injections” during her trial and told a judge she had no idea that surgically implanting silicone into women’s posteriors might be dangerous.
Transgender deaths make headlines
Violence against transgender individuals is sky-high and Philly felt that twice this year — first when 21-year-old Londyn Kiki Chanel was stabbed in an abandoned house in North Philly in May. Raheam Felton, 31, a boyfriend of one of Chanel’s friends, was arrested and charged with her murder, but no motive for the killing was released. He awaits trial.
In a separate incident, Kiesha Jenkins, a 22-year-old transgender woman, was shot and killed during an attempted robbery in Logan in October. Jenkins was brutally killed by a group of five or six men who attacked her at 2:30 a.m. Pedro Redding, 22, of Hunting Park, was arrested for being involved in the killing and awaits trial.
Young Lioness vows allegiance to ISIS
A North Philadelphia woman known online as the “Young Lioness” was arrested in April after investigators found that she had intentions to travel to the Middle East, join ISIS and carry out some sort of suicide mission. Keonna Thomas, 30, was flagged by the feds for apparently tweeting about ISIS propaganda, raising money for jihadists and planning out a trip to carry out a mission. She didn’t get that far — Thomas was arrested and is still awaiting trial. But her name popped up in the news again earlier this month after she was cited in a George Washington University report titled “ISIS in America: From Retweets to Raqqa.”
Officer Robert Wilson killed at GameStop
Philadelphia Police Officer Robert Wilson III wentt to a GameStop in North Philly on March 5, and planned to pick up a gift for his son. But while he was inside the store at 21st and Lehigh, two men entered and began firing after they spotted the officer. Wilson, 30, had apparently drawn the men toward him and away from others in the store, but was killed in the process.
Carlton Hipps and Ramone Williams, who are half-brothers, were charged with homicide, and prosecutors have considered asking for the death penalty of these two were convicted (though there’s currently a moratorium on the death penalty in Pennsylvania.) Both Hipps and Williams await trial.
Temple’s scary armed rape
A Temple University student was sexually assaulted near campus in September by an armed stranger, and to find the person, police released surveillance video depicting a suspect on the Broad Street Line not long after the assault — and he was smiling. By mid-October, police charged Shakree Bennett, 23, with rape and he was picked up by U.S. Marshals in New Jersey. Bennett awaits trial on the charges.
Gun scare shuts down Community College of Philadelphia after 4chan threat
Just days after the FBI and ATF warned Philadelphia universities about a shooting threat posted on 4chan, the Community College of Philadelphia was placed on lockdown with reports of a gunman on campus. SWAT teams and police from across the city descended upon the Spring Garden-area school and nearby high schools were also put on lockdown.
But hours later, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey described the incident as an argument between two men who knew each other. One man flashed a gun, and a person of interest was taken into custody but later released. For context, Philadelphia police average receiving about 100 calls a day related to guns — only about 3.5 percent are considered shooting incidents where police can confirm shots were actually fired.
SEPTA fare evader holding child shoved by transit cop
In June, a video began circulating that depicted a man being pushed around by SEPTA police officers while he was holding his small child. Police said that man, Ellis Smith, was being apprehended by police for evading a fare; still, many thought the police used excessive force on the man and put his daughter in danger. Theft charges levied against Smith for evading the fare were dropped (though a disorderly conduct remains) but his attorney says he’ll seek a settlement from SEPTA for physical and mental stress as a result of the incident.
Longtime Congressman Fattah charged with corruption
It had been a long time coming for Chaka Fattah. The longtime congressman who represents Philadelphia’s second district in Congress had been under federal investigation for years. In July, he was officially charged with bribery, racketeering and money laundering as the Department of Justice alleges he and his co-conspirators used federal and charitable funds for political means.
Fattah has denied he did anything illegal and says he’s the victim of a Department of Justice that’s been out to get him for years. He’s up for re-election in 2016 and has vowed to run again, but he faces real opposition for the first time in years as Philly pol Dwight Evans mounts a run against him.
Chaka Fattah Jr. convicted
Chaka “Chip” Fattah Jr. was convicted in November on federal bank and tax fraud charges after he was depicted by prosecutors as a con man who scammed everyone from banks to the School District of Philadelphia in order to pad a luxurious lifestyle he couldn’t afford.
Fattah Jr., 32, represented himself in the trial and contends that he will win his case on appeal. In an interview with Billy Penn in the middle of the trial, Fattah Jr. conceded that he had a “good lifestyle,” but said he “also took care of a lot of people.” He’s scheduled to be sentenced in February.
Homicides on the rise
About 25 more people were killed in Philadelphia this year compared to the last two years, as the city recorded 269 homicides as of Wednesday. Despite the increase over 2014 and 2013, this year’s homicide total still represents a 30 percent decrease compared to 2007. It also means that Philadelphia will likely end the year with less than 300 homicides, which has been noted as a rare accomplishment since the 1960s.
Severed pig’s head left at Philly mosque
As a national conversation raged on about the treatment of Muslim citizens in the face of terrorist attacks and comments made by Donald Trump, Philadelphia had its own incident of home-grown racism. Earlier this month, a caretaker found a severed pig’s head outside the Al Aqsa Islamic Society mosque in Olde Kensington. The act was considered derogatory as the Quran forbids the consumption of pig products.
The act also prompted outcry from many in the Muslim community and caused public officials to decry the move. Mayor Michael Nutter said: “There is no place in Philadelphia for hate crime and its perpetrators. We are a city based on a long history of diversity, religious freedom and tolerance.”
As Sixers tank continues, Jahlil Okafor has off-court issues
The Philadelphia 76ers are on pace to win literally 2.7 games this season so we wouldn’t completely fault the players for having coping mechanisms. But apparently the star rookie has odd ways of dealing. First it came out that he was apparently pulled over in early November for driving 108 mph… on the Ben Franklin Bridge.
That news came just days after it was reported he got into two separate fights after leaving bars and a video of one of the street fights emerged on TMZ showing Okafor hitting a guy. Later, more concerns about Okafor emerged when a report surfaced that he tried to use a fake I.D. to get into Misconduct Tavern in Center City in October. That’s problematic when you’re recognizable and people well know you’re 19. Oops.
Shoot-out behind school bus on 676
A Pennsylvania State Police officer was shot in the back and shoulder but was stable after a routine traffic stop for an expired registration on I-676. After the officer tried to execute the stop in November, he was led on a wild car chase by a 17-year-old driver who, after firing shots at the officer, slammed into the back of a school bus that caught fire and became engulfed in flames. No children were on the bus at the time of the crash and the driver of the bus escaped without being harmed.
Giovanni Cotto, a 17-year-old from North Philadelphia, was charged as an adult for the attempted murder of a police officer. His bail was set at $3 million and he awaits trial.
No conviction for Beau Zabel killing
A courtroom was collectively shocked earlier this month when a Philadelphia man was found not guilty of killing Beau Zabel, a 23-year-old school teacher who was killed in a robbery that netted an iPod in June 2008. Charged in his slaying was Marcellus Jones, who is already serving a life sentence for the murder of a man said to have been his getaway driver after Zabel was killed. No jurors spoke after the verdict about why they acquitted Jones, but there was little physical evidence presented and witnesses couldn’t identify Jones as the person who pulled the trigger.
Instagram photo leads to conviction of purse-snatcher
It was back in February when an Instagram user posted a remarkably clear photo of a man running down Walnut Street with a stolen purse from Stuart Weitzman valued at $775. We at Billy Penn stumbled across it and brought it to the attention of Joe Murray, a Philadelphia Police detective active on Twitter. Murray shared the image with Sgt. Phil McAlorum of the 9th District, who noticed the same person in the Apple Store two months later on April 10 and had him detained. That man, Julius Vanquine III, 21, was found guilty on theft charges by a Philadelphia jury this month.