Cops Say Youth Confessed To Killing Boy

Posted: January 14, 1989

The South Philadelphia teen-ager said he wanted the car he thought belonged to the mother of an 11-year-old boy.

So on Dec. 11, he drove the boy, Robert Ulerick, into the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, near 20th Street and Pattison Avenue, and "I picked up a piece of brick and hit him in the back of his head one time," Dale Gardner, 16, said in a statement to Homicide Detective Franklin McGuoirk.

The statement was read at a preliminary hearing Thursday in which a judge ordered Garnder to stand trial on murder charges.

"He fell to his knees," said Gardner. "I picked up a bigger piece and I started hitting him in the top of the head. I kept hitting him and hitting him. Then he just fell and laid there.

"I started hitting him in the face with a different piece of rock. Then I got into the car and ran over him. I drove forward over him and then back over him."

"Did he scream?" asked McGuoirk.

"Yes," replied Gardner of Darien Street near Snyder Avenue.

"Is that why you hit him, to get the car?" asked the detective.

"Yes," answered Gardner.

Gardner said he had drank about three quarts of beer "about a half hour before I hit Robbie."

"Were you drunk?" McGuoirk asked.

"Yes," responded Gardner, who said after leaving the victim on the ground, "I just left and drove around."

Gardner, who attended the Parkway Program's Community Center City School at 11th and Market streets, said he didn't plan to kill Ulerick, of 8th Street near Jackson, but recalled striking him about seven times and getting blood on his jacket "when I put the rock over my head and hit him."

At the conclusion of the statement read to Municipal Judge Francis P. Cosgrove, Gardner said, "I'm sorry for what I did. I want to try and get help for it."

"This was a senseless, savage murder," said prosecutor Jack McMahon. ''One of the most disgusting situations I've ever heard. There was no reason for this young man to lose his life."

"This is a first-degree murder case," said McMahon. "That's what we will be seeking at trial."

Police said Ulerick had joined Gardner and several other teen-agers for a night of cruising South Philadelphia in a car that Ulerick's mother let them drive for a fee. She sent her son along with the youths to make sure it was returned, they said.

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