Worker convicted in Kraft murders


Yvonne Hiller’s “men­tal roller­coast­er” reached a grind­ing halt on Monday as the Kraft killer learned she will likely have to spend the rest of her life be­hind bars.

A Com­mon Pleas Court judge con­victed the 45-year-old former Cres­centville res­id­ent of two counts of first-de­gree murder for the Sept. 9, 2010, shoot­ing deaths of two co-work­ers in­side the Kraft Foods plant in North­east Phil­adelphia.

Hiller will be sen­tenced on Sept. 24, but life in pris­on is merely a form­al­ity. The dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice agreed not to seek the death pen­alty after Hiller dropped an in­san­ity de­fense and waived her right to a tri­al by jury. In­stead, she left her fate in the hands of Judge Ben­jamin Lern­er.

Hiller shot and killed Tan­ya Wilson, 47, of the 3800 block of N. Frank­lin St., and LaTonya Brown, 36, of the 1100 block of W. Pop­lar St., dur­ing an even­ing shift in the plant at Roosevelt Boulevard and By­berry Road.

She also wounded Bry­ant Dalton, 39, of the 5200 block of Ker­shaw St., in the neck and shoulder.

The at­tack stemmed from Hiller’s be­lief that her co-work­ers had been spray­ing her with harm­ful chem­ic­al sub­stances or “deer ur­ine,” ac­cord­ing to pri­or testi­mony in the case.

First, Hiller con­fron­ted Dalton and Brown about the sus­pec­ted con­tam­in­a­tion. Su­per­visors soon got in­volved in the verbal dis­pute. Even­tu­ally, the su­per­visors sus­pen­ded Hiller from her job in the fa­cil­ity’s mix­ing de­part­ment, where they make pop­u­lar Nabisco-brand treats like Or­eo and Lor­na Doone cook­ies.

In-house se­cur­ity of­ficers es­cor­ted Hiller from the premises, but she went to her car and re­trieved her .357-caliber Mag­num, which she was li­censed to carry, ac­cord­ing to pri­or testi­mony. Hiller forced her way past a guarded gate and in­to the build­ing, where she cornered her rivals in an em­ploy­ee break room and opened fire.

One shot struck Wilson’s neck and spine, while an­oth­er struck Brown’s right arm and torso. Both died at the scene.

An­oth­er bul­let struck Dalton in the neck and lodged in his shoulder. It re­mains there today. He re­portedly re­turned to work in Feb­ru­ary.

As Hiller went on a ram­page through the build­ing, she fired at her man­ager but missed as co-work­ers ducked for cov­er and tried to hide from her. One main­ten­ance work­er tracked her move­ments and called po­lice. Hiller fired at him, but missed him, too.

Dur­ing the epis­ode, Hiller used a mo­bile phone to call a friend, her moth­er-in-law and 911. Patrol cops from the 7th and 8th dis­tricts were first to ar­rive, fol­lowed soon after by SWAT of­ficers. One of­ficer re­por­ted that one bul­let passed just over his shoulder. Po­lice did not re­turn fire be­cause of the danger to oth­er em­ploy­ees.

Po­lice even­tu­ally found Hiller ly­ing in the fetal po­s­i­tion on the floor of a darkened of­fice and ar­res­ted her.

In her own state­ment to hom­icide de­tect­ives, Hiller said that co-work­ers in the 120-em­ploy­ee plant had been ab­us­ing her for years, par­tic­u­larly by spray­ing tox­ic sub­stances on her. Hiller had pre­vi­ously com­plained to su­per­visors about the ab­use, which was nev­er sub­stan­ti­ated.

Hiller told the de­tect­ives that she had been to coun­sel­ing as a res­ult of pri­or on-the-job con­flicts and had been tak­ing the anti-anxi­ety drug Xanax by pre­scrip­tion. She said she had been on a “men­tal roller­coast­er.”

When asked how she got the gun and a li­cense to carry it, Hiller ex­plained that she simply bought the weapon “on Frank­ford Av­en­ue” in early 2010. ••End­Frag­ment 

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