Two years later city cops are releasing new information to help solve the murder of a little girl.
That the Philadelphia Police Department chose to put out this information now is perhaps a mark of their growing frustration. "It's been a long time now," says Boyle. "We've looked at a lot of leads. But we always come back to the same guy."
Police interviews with the suspect's relatives and friends paint a portrait of a violent young man marked by a strange obsession with Daryl Bynum. They say he spoke openly about having robbed Bynum in the week before his murder and declared his intent to rob him again. He talked about Bynum's money and drugs.
He usually operated in the area of 32nd and Diamond, robbing drug dealers and the stray Drexel student. This string of other robberies landed him in prison.
|Her other life: Lezlie Hiner poses with Mecca's polo horse Beuda.|
"It fits," says Boyle. "Say he forces them all down to the basement, where Bynum might've stashed his drugs. Who are you gonna call to unload drugs? You're gonna call a drug dealer."
And there's more: The alleged shooter turned up in people's homes playing with a new silver flip-top cell phone exactly like Bynum's. One of his running buddies, either Raheem/Kareem or Holey Moley, showed off a gun that matched the make and model of the weapon used in the triple homicide. And police have information that their suspect obtained the same make and model in advance of the murders. But the most suggestive information comes from people describing the shooter's odd behavior and cryptic comments directly after the bodies were discovered.
"Don't be surprised if you see me on the news," he told one person.
Some questioned him about the murder directly, and one asked if he could kill a child. "Yes I could," he supposedly said. "If a child's there when I'm robbing, then she has to die."
According to police interview records, the witness noticed that telling switch: They had mentioned "a child," but the shooter used the personal pronoun "she."
And then there's Boyle, who brought the presumed gunman into an interview room and felt certain he was staring at the killer.
"He laughed at me," says Boyle. "He said, 'You don't have enough to charge me, do you? You ain't got me!' with this big smile on his face."
Today Boyle says he might have enough information for an arrest warrant, but some of his evidence wouldn't be admissible in court. "This is a big case," he says. "I don't blame the district attorney's office for not pressing charges. We all want to be sure we have enough information for a conviction. And I know there's someone out there who can give us the information to break this case."
On Oct. 15, 2003, Nifeesia "Fee" Harris didn't panic when she couldn't reach her mother or Mecca by phone. She figured they were spending time with another relative.
But once she arrived at work that night, transcribing data for an insurance agency in Delaware County, she started having visions. First she saw the face of her mother, who looked frightened. Then she saw her mother and Mecca, huddled together in the dark.
|Murder cops: Dets. Chuck Boyle (right) and Jeff Piree await a break in the case.|
Light flooded into the house. The back door was open. She drove home to get her boyfriend Sam Malette. Together they went inside.
They hollered for Mecca. They hollered for Sheila. They went upstairs. Sheila Harris and Daryl Bynum's bedroom had been ransacked. The dresser drawers-yanked out. The mattress-flipped over. The television-knocked to the floor. They came back downstairs.
Malette reached for the phone to call the police, but the cord came loose in his hand, having been yanked from the wall. "I was standing there with the phone in my hand," says Malette, "and out of the corner of my eye I saw the basement door."
PW's Taste of Philly 2014
Election Day 2014: Tues., Nov. 4