It was the biggest mass killing in the city's history. But that doesn't begin to tell the story of what happened that night in West Philadelphia.
"What you have to realize is, this man would come home from work and just be family man," says his cousin Robin Barnes. "It was no sign, no nothing, that this man was living that other type of life."
That's why, when his wife came home from work on Dec. 29 to find detectives waiting at her home to tell her that her husband had died in a crack house, the shock was complete.
"You're not only dealing with the fact that you've lost someone that you cared about and that you respected," says his cousin Lisa Nelson. "Now you've got this other thing that you're dealing with, this other side of their personality ... That just doubles the grieving."
In the days following the shootings, the Mill Creek neighborhood in West Philadelphia was consumed with grief and anger.
There were whispers of revenge. Maynard, the dealer who had warned Porter not to get involved in the drug trade, was mentioned as a possible suspect.
He was questioned by police.
"Maynard admits that he hated George Porter," says a highly placed police source. "I guess for a lot of reasons. They got in fights before. They were neighbors."
But Maynard told the police, "I didn't like Porter, but I didn't kill him."
Police questioned Shawn Crews.
"Crews was with these people before this happened," the police source says. "And we know that Maynard may have been involved in it, too. It might have been these four people who did the shooting, but other people are involved in it, too--we think."
By Jan. 1, with no suspects in custody, the whispers of retaliation reached fever pitch. When the house next door to Shawn Crews' was firebombed, neighbors and police assumed the whispers had become reality.
"We thought it was related," says the police source. "There was a woman there. It was a domestic thing. We thought that because Crews lived next door, that they had made a mistake."
The firebombing wasn't related. Archibald Harvin, 42, admitted to police that he firebombed the house because he believed his estranged wife's neighbors were the cause of his marital troubles.
Doris Ewell, 72, who lived next door to the firebombed house, died shortly after the blaze, further heightening neighborhood tension.
By the time of the funerals for the Lex Street victims, the roiling fear, sadness and anger threatened to boil over on the entire community.
At CJ Helton's funeral on Jan. 4, hundreds of mourners walked quietly down the aisle of the Church of New Hope and Faith on 39th Street as police vehicles idled outside.
CJ's cousin's voice shook the rafters of the tiny church as he shut his eyes tightly and sang: "I miss you my buddy. I miss you my cousin."
Philly Weekly's Fall Guide 2015
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