Husband dead, wife riddled with bullets in home invasion

Body of man is removed after home invasion in the Strawberry Mansion section early yesterday.
Body of man is removed after home invasion in the Strawberry Mansion section early yesterday. (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: March 06, 2012

A NOISE in the night awoke Sherrell Rhine-Paul from her sleep early yesterday and put her in the middle of a living nightmare inside her Strawberry Mansion home, police said.

By the end of it her husband was dead, and her body was ravaged by up to 10 bullets.

About 3:45 a.m., two men entered the house, on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 32nd Street, that Rhine-Paul, 39, shared with her husband, John Paul Jr., 35, and their two young children, police said.

Homicide Capt. James Clark said the intruders went through the front door, but with no signs of forced entry, investigators are still trying to figure out how they got inside.

"The locks didn't seem to be the best of locks so we don't know if they were picked, we don't know if they had a key," he said.

Clark said Rhine-Paul was in bed when she heard noise downstairs and went to the top of the second-floor landing, where she was immediately shot eight to 10 times. Paul was awakened and fought with one of the men, who shot him several times, then again when he was down.

One of the gunmen is believed to have been shot in the leg, possibly during the struggle with Paul or accidentally by his accomplice. Clark said. The thugs took nothing and fled the scene in a dark-colored car driven by a third person, police said.

The couple's two children, ages 6 and 13, were in the house but were not harmed. They called the police. Paul was pronounced dead at the scene, and Rhine-Paul was hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

Clark said that Paul seemed to be a "a good, upstanding person" and that neither he nor his wife was known to the police. Police didn't know of a motive and were "leaving open" the possibility that the gunmen may have hit the wrong house, he said.

"Their lifestyle didn't indicate that they would be victims of this type of crime," he said.

"We don't know why they were targeted. It seems like a really, really nice family."

Paul Clinton, 61, who lives on the block where John Paul grew up, called Paul a "respectful family man" who always had a "beautiful grin" on his face."

"This stunned me," Clinton said. "I guess nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors, but as far as I knew him, he was a good man."


Contact Stephanie Farr at 215-854-4225 or farrs@ phillynews. com, or follow on Twitter @FarFarrAway. Read her blog, PhillyConfidential.com.

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