4 girls in custody in brutal Chester beating posted on Facebook

A surveillance image shows the girls closing in on the mentally challenged woman as she sat her front step in Chester.
A surveillance image shows the girls closing in on the mentally challenged woman as she sat her front step in Chester.
Posted: September 29, 2012

This story has been updated

The assault began with a teenage girl's wallop to the head of a 48-year-old mentally challenged woman who sat, defenseless, on the low front step of her Chester house.

Then a pack of half-dozen girls swarmed in and whaled mercilessly on the victim. They rushed inside her Morton Avenue home and threw her to the sofa.

Arms windmilled. A girl in a white T-shirt removed a shoe and used it to smack the victim. Another yanked away one assailant - so she could jump in and throw punches, too. After a minute, the attackers fled.

Posted on Facebook, a video of the brutal assault, which took place Tuesday or Wednesday, has a soundtrack, too, with tough talk, expletives, and girlish laughter.

"Talk to her first, talk to her first," one attacker squealed, suggesting how to set the victim up for a sucker punch.

A parent brought the video to the attention of Chester police Thursday after she saw it on the social-networking site.

Watching it so sickened Police Commissioner Joseph Bail Jr. that he ordered a citywide dragnet for the suspects, using every resource, including the detective bureau, the juvenile division, the major crimes unit, and every patrol officer.

"That's basically the same template we use for a homicide," said Detective James Nolan.

The woman, whose name has not been released, did not report the crime on the night it happened, but did seek medical attention for cuts and bruises, police said.

By Friday morning, police had four girls in custody and were seeking two more. Their names were not released.

"They beat the bejesus out of her," said Nolan. "But the attack was more degrading than physically damaging."

Police said the Delaware County district attorney was reviewing possible charges, including aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, harassment, and trespassing. If anything was taken from the house, there could be charges of burglary. Police are also reviewing surveillance video, which was shot from a corner grocery.

The Facebook video, which shows the attackers hooting, hollering, and dancing triumphantly, appears to have been posted as a sort of visual validation.

"It's the fastest way to let the town know what you did," said Nolan.

"The mayor came and viewed it" and was disgusted, said the detective. "What gets most people is the lack of concern for human life. They are treating this person as if she were an 'it.' "

This week's assault in Chester unfolds at



Contact Michael Matza at 215-854-2541 or mmatza@phillynews.com


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