Woman charged in beating death

Posted: February 12, 2009

A Strawberry Mansion woman has been charged with murder in the beating death of a 64-year-old grandmother and her dog.

Markita Blackwell, 34, of the 2500 block of North Natrona Street, called police Feb. 2 and said she had found Melva White, known in their neighborhood as "Ms. Poochie," severely beaten in a rowhouse in the 3200 block of West Arizona Street. White's dog had been beaten to death.

Blackwell, in fact, beat White, who died Monday night, and killed her dog, Pup-Pup, homicide Capt. James Clark said yesterday. She also stole money from the victim, who may have operated a speakeasy, he said.

Authorities were trying yesterday to get Blackwell into custody.

The two women were acquaintances, and Blackwell was known to visit White's house. Clark said the home was known as a neighborhood speakeasy where neighbors could buy alcohol and small amounts of marijuana.

Neighbors said White, whom they described as a petite woman with a feisty personality, was inseparable from her beloved dog.

Jacquelyne White, 45, the victim's daughter, said she was relieved to hear that someone had been charged, but added: "I won't feel safe until someone is in custody. Until then, nobody can feel safe. It could happen to someone else's mother."

Contact staff writer Barbara Boyer at 215-854-2641 or bboyer@phillynews.com.

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