Police: Killer invoked Old Testament in 'stoning' death

Posted: March 18, 2011

A Delaware County man has been arrested and charged with murder in the beating death of an elderly Landsdowne man who had befriended him and made him executor and sole beneficiary of his will.

John Joe Thomas, 28, of the first block of Sunshine Road in Upper Darby, allegedly told police he killed Murray Joseph Seidman, 70, because the older man had made sexual advances and that the Old Testament spelled out stoning as the punishment for homosexuality.

"I stoned Murray with a rock in a sock," Thomas said to police, according to court documents.

Thomas, who was charged with murder, was silent as he was led past photographers this morning.

According to the court documents, Thomas called police Seidman's apartment on Jan. 12 and they found Thomas sitting in the hallway crying: "I'm not going down there again, there is too much blood."

Police found Seidman in his apartment face down. The medical examiner later ruled Seidman died as a result of blunt force trauma at least five days before being discovered.

Neighbors described Seidman as a friendly soul who liked to eat out, watch movies, and bowl. He worked in the laundry of Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital for 40 years until he retired. Hospital officials said he was well liked by his coworkers and a "landmark" at the institution.

It was at the hospital where Seidman met and befriended Thomas, according to neighbors. The young man and Seidman were often seen together grocery shopping and going to church.

Lansdowne police Chief Daniel Kortan said the break in the investigation came when Thomas allegedly told a witness he beat an older man to death.

"I killed a man," Thomas allegedly told the witness. He then described how he placed batteries and rocks in a sock, and hit Seidman in the head at least 10 times. Thomas then returned to Seidman's apartment several days later and called police, saying he had discovered the body, according to court documents.

When police interviewed Thomas on Wednesday he said Seidman had been making advances toward him over a period of time. Thomas said he read in the Old Testament that homosexuals should be stoned in certain situations.


Contact staff writer Mari A. Schaefer at 610-892-9149 or mschaefer@phillynews.com.

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