Northeast Times

Still clueless

— Three months after Daniel Knab's murder, his loved ones are no closer to find­ing out what happened.

(left) Ann Flynn and daugh­ter Kelly Knab say their fam­ily will not stop look­ing for the mann who killed Ann’s son, Danny Knab, back in Feb­ru­ary. Danny was on his way home from walk­ing his girl­friend when he was shot in the back. He died in­stantly, and Ann was wathch­ing the news about a young man found dead when she re­cieved a phone call telling her that the young man on TV was her son, Wed­nes­day, May 2, 2012, Phil­adelphia, Pa. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

Start­Frag­ment

Daniel Knab had a thing for cin­na­mon buns. It wasn’t ex­actly a crav­ing — more like an ad­dic­tion. When he wasn’t snack­ing on them, he was think­ing about where to buy some more.

Tra­gic­ally, Knab’s ob­ses­sion with the bakery con­fec­tion has sup­plied Phil­adelphia po­lice with one of their very few clues in a frus­trat­ing ef­fort to solve the 28-year-old May­fair res­id­ent’s Feb. 10 murder.

Sur­veil­lance cam­er­as re­cor­ded Knab’s late-night vis­it to a Holmes­burg Wawa less than an hour be­fore he was shot and killed on the 3500 block of Ar­thur St., a vic­tim of what po­lice fig­ure may have been a rob­bery gone wrong or per­haps something even more sin­is­ter.

So far, however, de­tect­ives have no de­scrip­tion of the killer, no con­firmed motive, nor any eye­wit­nesses. Knab died of a single gun­shot wound of the back.

“It’s frus­trat­ing. We don’t have much to go on,” said De­tect­ive Ken Rossiter of the hom­icide unit.

By all ac­counts, it’s a case of a gen­er­ally quiet young man meet­ing a vi­ol­ent death in a re­l­at­ively quiet neigh­bor­hood.

On Feb. 9, Knab and a girl­friend spent the even­ing watch­ing movies at the Rob­bins Street home he shared with his mom and step­dad, Ann and Jim Flynn. It was a Thursday. Knab, a George Wash­ing­ton High School gradu­ate, was between jobs as a non-uni­on elec­tri­cian, his fam­ily said.

“He and his girl­friend were watch­ing a movie like they usu­ally did,” Jim Flynn said.

At about 11 p.m., the girl­friend — iden­ti­fied by Knab’s fam­ily only as Beth — de­cided to go home. Knab ac­com­pan­ied her.

At the time, the girl­friend was liv­ing on Solly Av­en­ue near Fath­er Judge High School, the Flynns said. From their house, the com­mute nor­mally would be a 20-block jaunt north on Frank­ford Av­en­ue via the Route 66 trol­ley, then a short walk west along Solly.

Yet, even be­fore Knab had be­gun dat­ing Beth a couple months earli­er, the Flynns al­ways were wary of the area around Frank­ford and Solly. The in­ter­sec­tion is at the bot­tom of a hill in a val­ley formed by the Pennypack Creek. The cen­tur­ies-old Pennypack Creek Bridge is nearby, along with a rail­road trestle span­ning Frank­ford Av­en­ue and a tree-covered por­tion of Pennypack Park.

“We al­ways had a bad feel­ing about that area. It al­ways seemed so dark and dingy,” Jim Flynn said.

The Flynns warned their son to be care­ful as he walked out their door that night.

“His last words to me were, ‘Trust me, mom. I’ll be fine,’” Ann Flynn said.

Later, the par­ents learned that the young couple had passed up the bus and de­cided to walk the whole way.

“She told po­lice they walked home be­cause they wanted to spend time to­geth­er,” Ann Flynn said, cit­ing her own con­ver­sa­tions with de­tect­ives.

“He was madly in love. They were to­geth­er as much as they could pos­sibly be.”

The North­east Times was un­able to loc­ate the girl­friend for com­ment. Ann Flynn said that her fam­ily has had very little con­tact with her since the shoot­ing.

At 11:48 p.m., the couple stopped at the Wawa at Frank­ford and Shef­field, about sev­en blocks south of Solly. Knab bought cin­na­mon buns and a half-gal­lon of milk to wash them down.

They left the store and, ac­cord­ing to the girl­friend’s ac­count to po­lice, walked to her home. Knab didn’t stay there, but his fam­ily can’t ima­gine he left right away.

“In the be­gin­ning of a re­la­tion­ship, you don’t just walk up and leave to end the night,” sis­ter Kelly Knab said.

De­tect­ives have no evid­ence that the couple en­countered any­body in the street or that they had ar­gued with each oth­er.

“There were no text mes­sages or phone calls between Danny and someone. No one had threatened him,” Rossiter said.

At 12:15 a.m., a neigh­bor re­por­ted hear­ing a gun­shot in the area. Patrol of­ficers in­vest­ig­ated, but found noth­ing sus­pi­cious and moved onto oth­er du­ties.

At about 5 a.m., an Ar­thur Street res­id­ent found Knab’s corpse between two parked cars. His feet were on the side­walk and torso in the street.

“He still had money in his front pock­et, a few dol­lars. And he had his cell phone,” said Knab’s sis­ter, Dawn Ben­nett.

But his wal­let was miss­ing.

It turned up weeks later when a Ta­cony postal car­ri­er re­covered it from a street-corner mail­box and shipped it to the home of Knab’s ex-girl­friend. Her ad­dress was still on his driver’s li­cense.

De­tect­ives can’t be sure if Knab’s killer de­pos­ited the wal­let in the mail­box be­cause of the mail­box’s dis­tant prox­im­ity from the shoot­ing scene and be­cause Knab may have in­no­cently dropped the wal­let some­where.

It wouldn’t have been the first time he lost his wal­let, Rossiter said, cit­ing in­form­a­tion provided by the vic­tim’s fam­ily.

Po­lice no­ti­fied the Flynns of the killing later than morn­ing.

“I woke up and heard screams that I nev­er want to hear again,” Jim Flynn said.

“Who­ever it was didn’t just kill Danny, he killed all of us,” Ben­nett said.

In an ef­fort to gen­er­ate leads, Rossiter and his col­leagues are re­vis­it­ing oth­er vi­ol­ent-crime in­vest­ig­a­tions in­volving the neigh­bor­hood.

A sim­il­ar killing oc­curred on Nov. 15, 2009, on the 7900 block of Craig St. A 22-year-old man was walk­ing home from a friend’s house at 1:43 a.m. when someone shot him mul­tiple times, in­clud­ing once in the head.

The vic­tim, Ken­neth Huck­step, lived with his par­ents and grew up in the neigh­bor­hood. He and two pals had walked to­geth­er along Frank­ford Av­en­ue, then split up at Rhawn Street. The shoot­ing oc­curred on a dark­er, quieter side street.

It re­mains un­solved.

“We’ve looked in­to shoot­ings and rob­ber­ies in the area to see if there are any type of pat­terns,” Rossiter said. “Right now, we can’t es­tab­lish any.”

In that case, just as in the Knab killing, it only makes sense that someone saw something in the densely pop­u­lated res­id­en­tial com­munity. When loud noises in­ter­rupt early-morn­ing si­lence, people tend to look out­side.

“Some­body had to look out a win­dow and see something,” Ann Flynn said. “Maybe they’re afraid to come for­ward. But no fam­ily should have to go through this.”

As with oth­er un­solved murders throughout Phil­adelphia, the city is of­fer­ing a $20,000 re­ward for in­form­a­tion lead­ing to the ar­rest and con­vic­tion of the killer or killers. Wit­nesses should call the hom­icide unit at 215-686-3334. ••

End­Frag­ment

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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