4 More Charged In Fatal Beating A Newtown Square Man Died When A Chester Drug Deal Went Bad. A Fifth Man Was Already Charged.

Posted: March 23, 1995

Four more men have been charged with murder in the fatal beating of a 21- year-old Newtown Square man who died during a botched drug deal in Chester in September 1993, District Attorney William H. Ryan Jr. said yesterday.

The additional charges came from a Delaware County grand jury last week at the conclusion of its seven-month investigation into the death of Gregory Oreski, 21, of Newtown Square.

Charged with murder and related offenses are: Kevin Hightower, 39, of the 900 block of Glen Terrace, Chester; Frank Carter, 27, of the 500 block of East 10th Street, Chester; Shawn Dawson, 23, of the 1500 block of Townsend Street, Chester, and James Jackson, 27, of the 400 block of Gideon Road, Chester Township, Ryan said.

Hightower is already being held at Rockview State Prison on an unrelated

drug charge, Ryan said. About a dozen city police and Delaware County detectives are conducting a citywide manhunt for Carter, Dawson and Jackson, but as of late yesterday, they were still at large, said Police Lt. Joseph Bail.

In addition, the grand jury charged Jerome Billings, 23, of the 1100 block of Chestnut Street, Chester. Billings was arrested a year ago on murder charges in the case and has been held since last March at Delaware County Prison.

The incident began during a Sept. 3, 1993, drug transaction at 10th and Potter Streets, when Oreski's friend, Dennis McCullum, snatched a package of cocaine from a drug dealer, according to a police affidavit.

McCullum jumped into a car driven by Oreski and the two tried to get away, but the dealer, later identified as Jerome Billings, clung to the side of the car, the affidavit said. Then the car crashed near a church at 10th and Walnut. McCullum managed to escape on foot, the affidavit said, but Oreski was dragged from the car by Billings, who began punching, kicking and stomping on him. Then Carter held Oreski down while Jackson hit him in the head and back with a baseball bat, and Hightower pulled a weed whacker out of Oreski's car and beat him with it, according to the affidavit.

The victim managed to stagger up 10th Street, toward Chestnut Street, before collapsing near Hastings Auto Sales, where the attackers resumed the beating, the affidavit said.

When Chester police arrived, the attackers had already dispersed. Oreski was taken to Crozer-Chester Medical Center, where he died several hours later.

An autopsy determined the cause of death to be a closed-head injury with multiple blunt injuries of trunk and limbs, according to the affidavit.

McCullum ran into Eddystone, where he was picked up by a police officer.

Ryan said a Chester resident who witnessed a portion of the beating while sitting on his porch near 10th and Walnut Streets provided the grand jury with crucial information.

He positively identified all the assailants except Carter, who placed

himself at the scene through his own testimony, Ryan said.

An additional witness whom Ryan would not name also supplied the grand jury with important testimony.

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