Three kids slain by joyriding carjackers

Posted: July 28, 2014

THREE SIBLINGS were killed yesterday morning, kids cut down by two selfish punks who cared more about a car than the lives they tore apart.

Police last night scoured the city for the carjackers, a black man and a Hispanic man, who stole an SUV at gunpoint in North Philadelphia and took it and its unwilling owner on a high-speed joyride just after 11 a.m.

The spree ended about 15 minutes later with a violent crash on the corner of Germantown Avenue near Allegheny, where the vehicle plowed into a woman - whom neighbors identified as Keisha Williams, 34 - and her three children as they sold fruit for a church fundraiser.

Investigators yesterday hoped a $100,000 reward - backed by the city - for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible would help bring them to light.

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5 also posted a $10,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest in the case by noon today.

"I've been in the Homicide Unit for six years. This is one of the saddest cases I've come across," Capt. James Clark said yesterday. "You have three innocent children who had the rest of their lives in front of them who were taken in this fashion."

The mother remained in critical condition last night at Temple University Hospital, Clark said. Her 10-year-old son was pronounced dead at the scene. Later, his 15-year-old sister succumbed to her injuries at Temple, as well as his 7-year-old brother, who died at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children.

The children's identities were not released.

A 65-year-old neighbor who was helping them sell fruit - identified as Thelma Brown by her granddaughter - was also injured in the crash, Clark said. Brown remained in stable condition last night at Hahnemann University Hospital.

Meanwhile, the owner of the SUV, a 45-year-old real-estate agent who was jumped by the punks after showing a house to a client on Cumberland Street near 6th, remained in critical but stable condition at Temple. Her identity was not released.

Homicide detectives were talking with her last night, working to piece together a crime that apparently had very few witnesses, according to Clark.

The woman doesn't live in the area of the carjacking, Clark said. After showing a house on the block , she got into her white Toyota SUV and headed home.

She made it just one block before two armed men forced their way into the car at the corner of 6th and Huntingdon, screaming at her to keep driving.

Clark said it didn't appear that the woman was targeted by the gunmen, and she told police that she had never seen the two before.

At some point, one of the men took control of the wheel, forcing her into the back seat.

The reckless scumbag was speeding down Germantown Avenue at "an extremely high rate of speed" before losing control and hopping the curb, striking the family at the fruit stand.

Investigators believe a blown tire caused the deadly crash, which sent the SUV tumbling into a grassy field.

After the car came to a rest, the cowards who stole it ran, Clark said.

"It looked like a battlefield," said Art Lee, 58, who lives on 12th Street near Allegheny Avenue and ran to the site of the crash after hearing a loud bang. "Bodies were spread out."

Karam Wilson, who lives not far from the crash scene on Hilton Street, said he was outside his house when he heard tires screeching and two loud booms. He and another neighbor ran to the scene, and he discovered victim Thelma Brown lying on the ground, holding her leg.

"She was pointing to the grass. I looked over, and I saw the kids," he said, visibly shaken.

Wilson said Williams was able to speak, but that her children were unresponsive.

"We just pray for her," he said. "Hopefully, she's strong enough to pull through."

A female neighbor said Williams manned the fruit stand every Friday. She got the produce from a nearby community garden and would sell it, setting up shop about noon with the help of Brown and a few of her children. The woman said she saw her at the stand yesterday before the crash.

"She was her happy go-lucky self," she said.

Stephan Benson, 26, said he lives next door to Williams. Benson said he had seen Brown, Williams and two of her children earlier in the day.

Benson said the kids were always lively and laughing. When he promised the youngest son a trip to a wrestling show - the children were always watching WWE Raw -"his eyes lit up."

"They were good people . . . just good people," he said on the stairs leading up to his home. "I've never lost a friend like this."

Carisma Fisher, 27, said Williams and her children were always working at a neighborhood garden, something they took great pride in.

Fisher said her 3-year-old daughter played with Williams' sons, who were "quiet" and "wonderful little boys."

"Those little boys were innocent," she said.

Last night, as police pieced together clues and looked for surveillance footage from businesses near the crash site, Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison implored the public to aid in the investigation.

"Just imagine your family got up today and decided to raise money for their church, to do it selflessly," Gillison said.

"If you know who did this, you have to look in the mirror and make the right decision - to turn these men in."

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