Daughter relieved after Bloods arrests linked to fire at parents' home

Posted: July 08, 2011

Ever so slowly, construction workers are erasing the physical reminders of the night last December when a Molotov cocktail landed on Stanbridge Street in Norristown.

Walls and porches have been rebuilt and new appliances installed in several of the 10 houses damaged by fire and smoke when members of a fledgling arm of the Bloods gang allegedly came seeking vengeance.

No amount of repairs, though, can make Sandy Orth forget.

The house belonging to her parents, Raymond and Mary Bibbo, was destroyed. Her mother's health continues to suffer as a result of the smoke she inhaled that night. Her father was so depressed that Orth believes his death in April was part of the fire's collateral damage.

"It's been bad," she said.

But on Wednesday, Orth felt a mix of relief and disbelief when she heard that police had arrested 10 suspected members of the Bloods and charged them with the firebombing.

The gang, which called itself "Gangsta Killer Bloods" and "G-Shine," was behind a crime rampage that began when Augustus Simmons, a member from Brooklyn, N.Y., moved to the Norristown area to start a branch of the group, Montgomery County officials say.

Simmons ordered the firebombs to be thrown at three houses in the borough as revenge for being dumped by a girlfriend and to intimidate a potential witness, according to court papers.

Seven adults, two juveniles, and one man identified as a gang affiliate were arrested on Wednesday. Their alleged crimes include attempted murder, assault, and robbery. They are being held on bail ranging from $10,000 to $1 million, although no bail was set for Simmons.

The Bibbos lived next door to Simmons' girlfriend.

When the firebomb hit, the Bibbos - who had been in the same home for 60 years - suffered the most, Orth said.

Police rescued her father, who was downstairs. Firemen saved her mother, who was upstairs.

Mary Bibbo, 80, a retired supermarket employee, spent an extended period in the hospital, in an induced coma. Her vocal chords became paralyzed, and she now speaks with a rasp.

Raymond Bibbo, then 79, a retired soda deliveryman, was crushed by it all, Orth said.

"The stress was so bad, and the depression," Orth said. "He was so upset every day. He had a bad heart. He went into the hospital, and within a week he was gone."

Their house was condemned, gutted, and is being rebuilt. Sometimes, Orth stops by just to look at it.

"They lost everything they had," she said.

She was shocked to hear that a gang was allegedly behind the tragedy.

"We've been waiting for this day for a long time," Orth said. "But I can't believe this goes on where we live."

Contact staff writer Kristin E. Holmes at 610-313-8211 or kholmes@phillynews.com.

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