Headlines of Yore

A hateful crime, a false confession, a federal investigation: The 1975 Feltonville firebombing

By the end, six police detectives would be convicted of civil rights violations.

A trolley in Philadelphia's Feltonville neighborhood

A trolley in Philadelphia's Feltonville neighborhood

Facebook / John Hrosovsky

In the fall of 1975, a North Philly house fire caused by a thrown Molotov cocktail rocked the city. A Puerto Rican mother and her children were killed, and authorities launched a big investigation.

History now shows the case was badly mishandled, with the truth eventually coming out after dogged reporting by The Philadelphia Inquirer and pressure from community leaders. In the meantime, a series of what turned out to be coerced confessions exacerbated tensions between ethnic groups and led to innocent people spending time behind bars.

By the end, six police detectives would be convicted of civil rights violations, each serving over a year in jail. The person who finally pleaded guilty to the attack received a sentence of 22 years.

Scroll down to read the thread on how the Feltonville firebombing unfolded.

Want some more? Explore other Headlines of Yore stories.

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