This is the second time in less than two weeks that PCP has been linked to the gruesome death of a child in Camden.
Chevonne Thomas, charged Aug. 22 with beheading her 2-year-old son, Zahree, is believed to have smoked the drug before the murder. "Wet" has played a part in numerous other deaths in the city in recent years, said Jason Laughlin, a spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.
"This drug has a particularly catastrophic effect on people," Laughlin said.
Six-year-old Dominick Andujor and his sister were in an upstairs bedroom in their home on the 900 block of Ware Street when the attack took place Sunday, police said. Also in the house were two other sisters, ages 14 and 9, who were unharmed.
The 14-year-old was watching the other children because their mother was in Cooper University Hospital, recovering from surgery she had Saturday, neighbors said.
Shortly after 2 a.m., police said, Rivera got inside the house and slashed the throats of the boy and his 12-year-old sister. The girl ran from the house to a neighbor's door, bleeding heavily.
"I heard the doorbell, and I knew something was wrong because it kept ringing and ringing," said a neighbor, Shakira Brown, 19, fighting back tears as she spoke. "When I opened the door, she was bleeding so much. She kept saying, 'My brother, my brother.' "
The girl identified her attacker, and police tracked him to an apartment across town, on River Avenue.
(While the girl has been identified in previous news accounts, The Inquirer is now withholding her name because neighbors and a law enforcement source said she also might have been the victim of a sexual assault.)
Rivera, whose nickname is "Popeye," was arrested around 4 p.m. Sunday, hiding between a mattress and a bedroom wall, Laughlin said. Police also found bloodstained sneakers matching bloody footprints left in the Ware Street home. Rivera is expected to be arraigned Tuesday.
Laughlin would not say what, if anything, Rivera had said about the stabbings.
Rivera was a regular sight around the neighborhood, residents said. Some said he was friendly with the children in the area, playing basketball with them or cutting their hair. Others said he often sat on his front steps with a friend, drinking beer and smoking marijuana.
"He was always spaced out," said one neighbor who asked not to be named.
Authorities said Rivera knew the victims' family, but not well. According to neighbors, he had recently argued with the victims' mother, but police could not say what the argument may have been about or how serious it was.
Contact Allison Steele at 215-854-2641 or firstname.lastname@example.org.