Autopsy: Mom found dead after Pennypack jog was strangled

Connie McClain-Murray
Connie McClain-Murray
Posted: August 08, 2014

MORE THAN 24 hours after a Northeast Philadelphia mother of two was found dead in Pennypack Park after her evening jog, police yesterday were no closer to cracking the case - but they did know for sure that she died at the hands of a cold-blooded killer.

Homicide Capt. James Clark said an autopsy showed that Constance "Connie" Murray, 46, had been strangled. Her body was found about 6 a.m. Tuesday in a wooded area behind a small cemetery and a baseball field near Holme and Convent avenues.

Other than that, Clark said, detectives had nothing: no motive, no suspect and no solid leads in the killing of the wife and mother of two young girls.

"We are asking for the public's help," a stone-faced Clark implored from the podium at police headquarters. "Anyone who has any information about this tragic murder, anyone who may have seen anything between those hours of 9 p.m. [Monday] to 6 a.m. [Tuesday] . . . contact the Homicide Unit."

Murray left her home about 9 p.m. Monday for her daily jog, Clark said. When she hadn't returned home about two or three hours later, her husband and daughter went out to search for her. Not finding her, Clark said, they filed a missing-person report with police.

About 6 a.m. Tuesday, Clark said, a neighbor walking her dog stumbled upon Murray's body in the brush on the edge of the park, off busy Holme Avenue - less than a mile from the victim's doorstep. The dog walker flagged a SEPTA bus driver who was taking a break, and he called police to the scene, Clark said.

Preliminarily, Clark said, an autopsy and a rape kit performed on Murray's body showed no signs of sexual assault.

Clark added that no evidence of a struggle or obvious defensive wounds were found on the woman's body. Sources said that Murray suffered from asthma and was born without her right arm below the elbow - possibly making her a more vulnerable target for a killer.

Adding to the mystery, Clark said, Murray's cellphone and a set of headphones, the only belongings she was carrying at the time of her death, are missing. He said that because the area is dense with brush, police weren't sure whether she had dropped the items or if her killer took them.

As detectives last night continued to canvass the quiet Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood where Murray lived and died, taking surveillance video that may have captured some kind of clue, her husband said his wife's death has been "devastating."

"My wife was a beautiful woman; a loving, caring mother, a fabulous friend," said Christopher Murray, reached by phone. He declined to comment further.

Connie Murray, a homemaker, jogged daily but changed her path among three or four routes and would run at different times of day, Clark said. He warned women in the neighborhood to be extra vigilant and to avoid walking or running alone - especially at night - until investigators uncover more about her death.

"There is a killer in that area," Clark said.

"We're going to do everything we can to find him and bring him to justice, but for right now, my message would be that if you're running late at night, always have somebody accompany you. If you don't have to run at night, don't run at night. Run during the day."

Clark said investigators in the Special Victims Unit are checking their database for any similar crimes.

Any DNA found on Murray or at the scene, he said, will be entered into the Combined DNA Index System to be checked against DNA from previous crimes for a match.

Clark said that detectives were chasing a number of tips called in to the Homicide Unit, but that clues in the slaying remained scant.

"We have no idea. We don't have a suspect right now; we don't have a motive," the Homicide captain said.

"Hopefully, we'll get those questions answered very soon, but right now we don't know."

Tipsters should call the Homicide Unit at 215-686-3334.


On Twitter: @morganzalot

Blog: PhillyConfidential.com

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