Homicide detective under investigation to be fired

Detective Ronald Dove
Detective Ronald Dove
Posted: November 10, 2013

PHILADELPHIA Two months after allegations of his misconduct first surfaced, police have taken the first step toward firing a veteran Philadelphia homicide detective under investigation in the alleged cover-up of three homicides and a disappearance.

Detective Ron Dove, a 16-year veteran of the force, violated policy by "failing to cooperate in a departmental investigation as well as lying or attempting to deceive" investigators, the Police Department said in a statement Friday announcing the action.

Dove, 41, is under investigation for allegedly helping his girlfriend, Erica Sanchez, 33, flee the state after she was named a suspect in the stabbing death of the man she lived with. Dove is also suspected of covering up two other slayings and a man's disappearance.

Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said he made the decision to suspend Dove for 30 days with the intent to dismiss because the detective was not "totally forthcoming" over the course of the Internal Affairs investigation.

"There's enough that's been revealed thus far that would allow me to take this administrative action," he said.

That investigation is being spearheaded by Internal Affairs and the District Attorney's Office, Ramsey said. He would not give any further details on the criminal investigation but said both agencies were "working hand in hand."

They're "in contact every single day," he said.

Ramsey said he did not have enough information to determine whether Dove's supervisors "could have done anything differently."

"The criminal investigation is the more important part of this thing, when all is said and done," the commissioner said, adding: "We're not going to leave any stone unturned."

Police union officials said that they represented Dove at his administrative hearing Friday but that for the time being, he will not be helped with an appeal.

"We're going to wait until the outcome of the investigation, the complete investigation, to see where this thing falls," Fraternal Order of Police lodge president John McNesby said.

Dove declined to make a statement during the hearing, McNesby said.

"Him being fired is the least of his worries at this point," McNesby said.

Dove, who has been working homicides since 2005, first came under scrutiny in October after the department launched an investigation into his conduct in the death of Cesar Vera, who was stabbed to death after a block party in September.

Sanchez, Dove's girlfriend of five years, has been charged with Vera's murder and was in custody Friday without bail. At the time of his death, Vera was living with Sanchez.

Investigators said they believed Dove moved Sanchez's car from the crime scene around the time of the killing and helped her escape to Rochester, N.Y. Furthermore, Dove paid for a hotel for Sanchez to hide out in - all while telling investigators he did not know her whereabouts.

Internal Affairs was also trying to determine whether Dove used his role as lead detective in a 2010 case to stifle the murder investigation of Leslie Delzingaro, a 45-year-old woman shot through the heart at an Olney bar owned by Sanchez's father.

Delzingaro's family has maintained that Dove seemed dismissive of the case and told them that Humberto Sanchez was a "great guy."

"He should be held accountable and charged appropriately," her family told The Inquirer in an e-mail.

Investigators have also said Dove may have concealed information in a second unsolved killing - the May 2012 slaying of Melanie Colon, 22, who was shot six times at close range and found face down behind a Juniata Park apartment building.

Colon's friend Reynaldo Torres, a mechanic on her street, was the last person seen with her. He has since disappeared, and investigators believe Vera may have been linked to Colon's death and Torres' disappearance.

Notes found on Dove's iPad when detectives raided his home in October led investigators to search for Torres' body twice in recent weeks in an overgrown and trash-filled ravine near Vera's residence on Westmoreland Street. Investigators searched with cadaver dogs but have not found any human remains.

Reached Friday, members of Colon's family said they had not yet heard of Dove's expected firing. They were still searching for answers about the connection between Dove and Colon's case.

"There's nothing more to say, but justice will be served," Ralphiee Colon, Melanie Colon's brother, said.

In late October, police found photos of Dove on the iPad of a Northeast Philadelphia man arrested with more than $300,000 worth of heroin.

The snapshots, police said, showed Dove at a bar, smiling, with his arm around the suspected dealer.

All of Dove's cases have been reassigned to other detectives.


mnewall@phillynews.com

215-854-2759 @MikeNewall

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