Woman Stabs Her Children, Then Dies The Boy And Girl Were Hospitalized. Their Mother Was Found Floating In The Schuylkill.

Posted: November 12, 1993

An East Falls woman stabbed her 10-year-old daughter and 10-month-old son yesterday, police said. She then turned the knife on herself and got a neighbor to drive her to Grays Ferry, where she apparently jumped into the Schuylkill.

Last night, police found the body of Ramona Hearn floating in the river near the University Avenue Bridge. Investigators said Hearn, 27, stabbed her daughter, Sakinah Hearn, and her son, Fareed Hearn, about noon yesterday.

Late yesterday, Sakinah was listed in fair condition at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She had stab wounds on the neck and hands.

Fareed, who had multiple stab wounds in the chest and abdomen, was in critical condition last night at Children's Hospital. Both children were transferred to Children's after first being treated at the Medical College Hospitals' Main Clinical Campus.

Police said the stabbings occurred at the School Lane House Apartments in the 5400 block of Wissahickon Avenue. Hearn stabbed her children in their ninth-floor apartment, police said, and Sakinah somehow escaped and ran down the stairs to find help.

According to witnesses, Sakinah was bleeding profusely when she reached the eighth floor, where two maintenance men were working.

"Help me! Help me!" she screamed. She told the men that her mother had stabbed her and her brother.

Her mother, knife still in hand, followed her daughter down the stairs, police said.

"Don't call 911," witnesses said Ramona Hearn screamed. "They'll take my kids." Hearn said she would kill her children before she would let someone take them away.

Detectives said Hearn, who had been holding the knife to her own neck, then told the workers, "Don't take my children. Don't take my children."

Police said Hearn then stabbed herself in the neck several times and demanded that one of the men stab her in the heart, yelling, "Stab me. Stab me."

When the men refused, she disappeared back into the stairwell - where detectives later found the knife - and apparently ran to a first-floor exit.

One neighbor said he saw Hearn, soaked with blood, as she left the building. Another neighbor offered to drive her to the hospital, police said.

Accounts differ about what happened next.

One neighbor, who spoke with the driver of the car, said Hearn told the driver that she didn't want to be taken to the hospital but to the Grays Ferry Avenue bridge. There, she said, "gangsters were holding her children."

However, police said she asked to be driven to a nonexistent "Grays Ferry Hospital." The driver declined to comment yesterday afternoon.

When the car got to 34th Street and Grays Ferry Avenue, police said, Hearn asked the driver, "Which way is the water?" before jumping out of the car.

Meanwhile, tenants on the eighth floor had called 911, covered Sakinah's wounds with a towel and taken her to the lobby.

"Everything happened so fast," said Lynette Robinson, who was working in a beauty shop on the first floor when she saw Sakinah sitting in the lobby. She said the girl appeared calm.

"We didn't realize what was going on" until the paramedics arrived and police officers began running into the building, Robinson said.

Officers went to Hearn's apartment - 922 - and found Fareed lying in the doorway. The baby had been stabbed at least five times in the chest and abdomen. Detectives theorized that he either had been dropped there and left for dead by his mother or had been dropped by his sister as she fled from the apartment.

With police restricting entry to the building, residents of the eighth and ninth floors returned. One man said he saw blood smeared on walls, a trail of blood leading down a stairwell, blood in the elevator, and droplets staining the building's otherwise shiny linoleum floors.

Homicide Lt. Joseph Witte said his detectives were on the case because of ''the tender age of the child and the possibility of (Fareed's) death."

At 4:30 p.m., police spotted a body on the river's west bank about 200 yards south of the University Avenue Bridge. About 7 p.m., a police Marine Unit boat pulled up to the east side of the river near the Walnut Street Bridge and unloaded a black body bag.

Late last night, Witte said that family members had identified the body and that an autopsy would be performed.

Detectives think Hearn was upset because she expected her longtime boyfriend, the father of her children, to break up with her. Police said Hearn, who apparently had no arrests or history of mental illness, might have been even more distraught because she thought her boyfriend's family was planning to take the children from her.

Investigators checked with the city Department of Human Services to see whether the agency planned to take custody of the children, and found nothing. Sources at DHS said yesterday, "To our knowledge, the family was not known to us."

Neighbors offered contrasting views of Hearn. Some said she was a normal, caring mother; others said she was an emotionally unstable woman who would abuse and neglect her children.

"She seemed kind of sick, stressed out, like she had some mental problems," Tracey Brown, a neighbor, said. "It looked like she was coming to that point that she would have a nervous breakdown."

Brown said that many times Hearn would roam through the hallways of the building, or even go down to the lobby, shouting curse words to herself.

"She cursed out loud to herself a lot," Brown said. "She used to go off screaming and hollering in the hallway, saying, 'I hate life. I can't take it no more, I can't take it no more.' "

Brown said that about a month ago, she saw Hearn throw Sakinah against a wall inside the elevator. Brown said she didn't interfere because she didn't want to get involved.

"It's really a shame," Brown said. "It's pressure in this world. I just don't know. Maybe she just couldn't handle life anymore. She must have just lost it."

Robert Walsh, the owner of Finbar's Cafe, in the apartment building lobby, said Hearn was a frequent customer.

"How did she appear?" he said. "Just like you - normal, stable. She didn't appear to be any different from any other mom with two kids. She didn't seem any more stressed or any less stressed."

Walsh said he had spoken with Hearn on Wednesday night when she and her children had gone in to order chicken wings, french fries and cheesecake.

"Only yesterday she was sitting right here, and I was telling her how fast Sakinah was growing up," Walsh said.

"I said, 'One minute she's like a Barbie girl and now she's a young lady.' Then this happened today.

"Where did life go?"

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