Family, neighbors sob at vigil for slain fruit vendor

Posted: April 26, 2013

A WEEK AFTER a beloved fruit-truck vendor was slain outside his South Philadelphia home, Don Ly's death still hung heavy over the quiet block of Vollmer Street where he lived - and violently died.

Outside Ly's family's home, about 40 relatives and neighbors gathered last night for a candlelight vigil in memory of the 68-year-old man. In the early hours of April 18, someone viciously attacked Ly, plunging a knife into him seven times and leaving him to die on the street.

During the vigil, Ly's son, Hoanh Ly, 38, thanked neighbors and investigators for their support since his father's slaying and begged for anyone who knows anything that may lead to his killer to come forward.

"We're all devastated," Hoanh Ly said as relatives embraced one another and sobbed. A memorial of flowers and candles sat outside the home where Ly, who came to the United States from Vietnam, lived for nearly two decades and raised four children with his wife.

Hoanh Ly said he and the family have been able to maintain hope, even though police have few leads in the case.

"We're still holding onto hope," the son said. "We ask that anybody who knows something contact police."

Investigators said they've made some headway in the case, but have not determined any suspects. Based on the investigation so far, they said, they believe the heinous crime was random.

Ly, who sold fruit from his truck along with his wife and daughter on Walnut Street near 34th in University City, was preparing for the day when he was attacked. His killer left behind his jewelry and wallet containing more than $100.

Ly's sister, speaking through a translator, sobbed as she echoed his son's plea.

"My brother never did anything to anyone. He's an honest man," the woman said. "Come forward and find justice for him."

During the vigil, a group of Buddhist monks led a solemn chant. Ly's relatives knelt on the concrete, some weeping silently during the prayer.

Several neighbors shared condolences and said how much they loved the man, who was known on the tight-knit block to be soft-spoken, generous and friendly.

John Rowan, 61, a neighbor and committeeman for the area, said he and others hope to have a sign put up dedicating the block in Ly's name.

"The family are excellent people. I couldn't ask for better neighbors," he said. "It's a tragedy."

Tipsters should contact homicide detectives at 215-686-3334.

On Twitter: @morganzalot


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