Family: Pregnant woman, daughter killed in Levittown, fire set

Investigators gather outside the Avalon Court apartments in Bucks County. Six residents were displaced by the search into the cause of two deaths. JOSEPH KACZMAREK /For the Inquirer
Investigators gather outside the Avalon Court apartments in Bucks County. Six residents were displaced by the search into the cause of two deaths. JOSEPH KACZMAREK /For the Inquirer
Posted: November 27, 2013

LEVITTOWN A pregnant woman and her 4-year-old daughter died Monday of injuries suffered in an apparently coordinated assault and subsequent arson at a Levittown apartment complex, according to authorities and the victims' family members.

"They were both stabbed," Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler said Monday night, adding that he did not know if that was the cause of their deaths.

"That would suggest the fire was set to conceal a crime," Heckler said.

Heckler and relatives said Ebony Talley, 22, who was seven months pregnant, was fatally stabbed and her body left for dead in an Avalon Court apartment that was engulfed in fire. Talley's toddler daughter, R'mani Rankins, suffered severe burns and died later Monday evening at an area hospital, Heckler and relatives said.

The fire in apartment 604 was reported at 3:40 p.m.

"She didn't deserve this, and her daughter didn't deserve this," Dani Hodges, a cousin of Talley's, said at the scene. "She was a good person. She took care of her daughter."

Bristol Township Crime Scene Unit investigators and a mobile police station secured the rear area of the complex. Police did not release any information at the scene.

When family members arrived, police spoke with them, and seconds later, some family members shrieked, with one shouting, "Someone stabbed and shot my sister!"

"It's very, very sad," said Marquis Johnson, a friend of Talley's. "She was a sweet person."

Johnson said that Talley's body was found in an apartment she did not reside in and that the situation "sounds fishy."

R'mani had one stab wound and her mother had multiple stab wounds, Heckler said.

Earlier this year, Talley had pleaded guilty in Bucks County Court to charges of robbery conspiracy and recklessly endangering another person, court records show. She was sentenced to two years' probation.

The American Red Cross was paying for hotel rooms for six residents of the apartment complex who were not able to get back into their units Monday night, according to spokesman Dave Schrader.

Schrader said he believed that none of the six was injured and that any damage to their apartments was minimal, but that they were displaced as the investigation continued. He said he believed they would be allowed back inside Tuesday.


sabdur-rahman@phillynews.com

Inquirer staff writers Chris Palmer and Robert Moran contributed to this article.

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