Northeast Times

Two women murdered in Holmesburg home

James Mears

Phil­adelphia po­lice an­nounced an ar­rest on Tues­day night in the ex­e­cu­tion-style murders of two wo­men in­side a Holmes­burg row­house on Sat­urday. The killer ap­pears to have been very fa­mil­i­ar to the vic­tims.

James Mears, 25, has been charged with two counts of murder for the slay­ings of Dol­lie Evans, 67, and Ruby Thomas, 57, in­side Evans’ home on the 4700 block of Vista St. Mears lives on the same block, al­though po­lice did not spe­cify if he also lived with Evans or in a dif­fer­ent house. There was no sign of forced entry in­to Evans’ house. The motive ap­pears to have been rob­bery. Mears is in Phil­adelphia pris­on cus­tody without bail while await­ing a Sept. 10 pre­lim­in­ary hear­ing.

The shoot­ing oc­curred at 5:32 p.m. Po­lice re­spon­ded to the scene and found the front door of Evans’ home ajar. In­side, they found Evans ly­ing un­re­spons­ive on the liv­ing room couch Thomas un­re­spons­ive on the floor of the front second-floor bed­room. Each had been shot once in the head, po­lice said. Both wo­men died at the scene.

Re­l­at­ives and neigh­bors of the vic­tims iden­ti­fied Evans as the long­time res­id­ent of the home, who was known to loc­als af­fec­tion­ately as “Grandma,” ac­cord­ing to pub­lished re­ports. Thomas re­portedly was a friend who had been stay­ing at the home for months.

Those who knew Evans de­scribed her as a gen­er­ous wo­man who was quick to help neigh­bors and oth­ers in need. 6ABC re­por­ted that Evans’ fam­ily told the sta­tion that the eld­er vic­tim’s grand­son also lived in her home and was shot on the block in Ju­ly, but sur­vived. The re­l­at­ives ad­ded that Dol­lie Evans had re­ceived death threats re­cently, al­though they did not know who made them or why she would’ve been tar­geted.

The double murder was only the latest epis­ode in a year-long de­luge of vi­ol­ence and may­hem on the block. Crime re­ports sup­plied routinely to the North­east Times by Phil­adelphia po­lice show that there have been at least three ag­grav­ated as­saults re­por­ted on the 4700 block of Vista St. since last Au­gust, in­clud­ing two in­cid­ents last month on Ju­ly 5 and 18. The Daily News re­por­ted that the Ju­ly 5 in­cid­ent in­volved Evans’ 36-year-old grand­son and that the vic­tim, whose name was not re­leased, was un­co­oper­at­ive with po­lice in­vest­ig­at­ing the shoot­ing.

It is not known if the Ju­ly 18 as­sault in­volved shoot­ing. The block has also been the site of a rob­bery and at least three burg­lar­ies since last Au­gust, as well as an­oth­er murder. That killing has been blamed on someone else with the sur­name Thomas.

On Feb. 2, Claude Thomas al­legedly shot Rasheed Shan­non in the face fol­low­ing an ar­gu­ment between the two in front of Thomas’ res­id­ence on the same block. It is un­known if Claude Thomas, 27, was re­lated to Ruby or if he had any per­son­al con­nec­tion to either of Sat­urday’s murder vic­tims.

Shan­non, 25, of Tor­res­dale, was hos­pit­al­ized and died of his in­jur­ies on Feb. 3. Po­lice ar­res­ted Thomas at his home two days later. Thomas re­mains in Phil­adelphia pris­on cus­tody without bail await­ing tri­al for murder, which is sched­uled to be­gin on March 9. ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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