Police question 'person of interest' in executions of 'Grandma,' friend in Holmesburg

Posted: August 27, 2014

IN THE END, it just might've been Dollie Evans' big heart that got the 67-year-old woman - nicknamed "Grandma" by her neighbors in Holmesburg - and her friend, Ruby Thomas, 59, shot to death.

Police confirmed last night that detectives were questioning - as a person of interest in the women's slayings - a 25-year-old man who had been staying with Evans and Thomas, who were found shot execution-style Saturday in the house on Vista Street near Torresdale Avenue.

In the wake of the killings, Evans' neighbors and relatives remembered her as a woman who, by and large, had an open-door policy at the rowhouse where she'd lived for at least a decade.

The young man police were questioning in the shootings last night is believed to have been one of the people who benefited from Evans' kindness, Homicide Capt. James Clark said. He said the man had been staying with Evans for a few months. Thomas had been staying with her recently as well, neighbors said.

Evans' 36-year-old grandson, who had also been staying at the house on Vista Street, was shot several times on the block early July 5, police and neighbors said.

He survived. Police have said that he was "not cooperative" at the time of that shooting.

Evans' niece Folesia Knox said she doesn't know why someone tried to kill her cousin, who still faces numerous surgeries to recover from his wounds.

Nor does she know why anyone would kill her beloved aunt, who always had people who'd fallen on hard times taking shelter in her home.

"She'd give you the shirt off her back. Homeless, rich, poor - it didn't matter," Knox, 45, told the Daily News yesterday. "She always let somebody stay in the house if you didn't have nowhere to stay. She'd have 25 people staying in one bedroom, as long as you weren't on the streets."

Knox, who lives in Trenton, said that she'd occasionally visit her aunt, but that she didn't do so often enough to know who was staying with her or what may have led someone to so violently take her life.

She said the family is planning a viewing for Evans on Friday and a funeral service Saturday.

"She just was an overall nice person, period," the niece said. "Picture how grandmas are. She didn't mind if she didn't eat at all, as long as you ate."

Yesterday, Vista Street was eerily quiet, and the white-siding house where the women were slain appeared undisturbed.

One resident, who did not want to be identified, said there is suspicion on the block that there may have been more than met the eye happening at the house.

"More was going on there than people want to realize," the resident said.


On Twitter: @morganzalot

Blog: PhillyConfidential.com

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