Who Killed Mecca Harris?

Two years later city cops are releasing new information to help solve the murder of a little girl.

By Steve Volk
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 7 | Posted Dec. 14, 2005

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He crept down one step. Then another. Fee waited for him in the kitchen. Then he saw Daryl Bynum's body. He started crying right there on the steps.

"They were my peoples," says Malette. "Sheila was like my mother. People talk about being selfish. She was selfless."

Two years later, at 27 years old, both Harris and Malette find it difficult to move on with their lives. They need resolution. To keep the family's memory alive, they mark the anniversary of Mecca's birthday with a memorial.

This past summer they held a cookout on Aspen Street, in front of the boarded-up windows where the bodies were found. Friends and family gathered, but none of the neighbors.

"They're scared," says Malette. "And I don't blame them."

The execution-style killings initially bore the markings of a ruthless drug organization. Such fear is a hallmark of life in West Philadelphia's more poverty-stricken corridors.

Malette and Harris still move with caution. They agreed to have their pictures taken for this story, then asked that the photographs not appear.

But living among the fear prevalent in a neighborhood known as the Bottom wasn't enough to encourage Sheila Harris to ship Mecca to California.

"Mecca didn't want to be so far away," says Fee Harris.

"Sheila didn't want her baby to leave," says her father Andrew Harris. "California's a long way away."

In hindsight, she should've filled out Mecca's application to the Thacher School and sent it Federal Express. Daryl Bynum should've been kicked to the curb.

Some say they counseled Sheila Harris against dating him, a drug dealer 14 years her junior. But neither his criminal activity nor the age discrepancy could convince her to leave him. "I told her she should move on," remembers her friend Pat Wright. "But she was in love with him. She said he was her soulmate."

Friends, relatives and the police say Sheila Harris can't shoulder the blame for murder. She raised good daughters.

Mecca had a world of opportunity in front of her. Though she didn't apply for the polo scholarship, she'd started as a freshman at the W.B. Saul High School for Agricultural Sciences and hoped to become a veterinarian. Fee Harris is a corrections officer, training to be a deputy sheriff.

By all accounts, Sheila Harris tracked her daughter's comings and goings, and monitored the people she hung out with more than most of the mothers whose kids haunted the stables in West Philly and Fairmount Park. Police and relatives say she labored to keep her boyfriend's dealing out of her home life.

They also say Bynum was "soft," not the thug we imagine when we read the words drug dealer. "Daryl Bynum was the kind of guy that, if his brother hadn't been dealing drugs, he'd be working in a restaurant or in maintenance or something," says Det. Boyle. "I don't make light of it because I know what a scourge drugs are on the community. But he had no history of violence."

If any lessons can be drawn from this, it's that just as proximity to water during a thunderstorm can provoke a lightning strike, any involvement with drug dealers can lead to death. And in the Bottom, it's always raining. Even on girls like Mecca Harris.


Today Fee Harris breaks down at random times.

"We can be driving in the car somewhere," says Malette, "just doing whatever, and all of a sudden she's crying."

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 7 of 7
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1. Mrs. Yvonne Fields-Woodson said... on Jan 5, 2012 at 02:41AM

“As I write, I cry because I knew Mecca , Sheila and Fee-Fee back in 1990 when Mecca when was a charming 1 year old and Fee-Fee was a stunningly sweet going- on teenager. I had a daughter named Deloris and a new baby named Christopher with red hair. We shared friends like Stacey and her daughter Syreeta and Corrine and her kids as well as Wendy and her 2 daughters. We all shared a residence at 40th and Lancaster for about 2 years caring for each others kids like they were our own I loved all these women Shirley, Latavia because there we were family. Sheila and Shirley were like my big sisters (I'm an only child) Shirley taught me southern cooking secrets and how to be happy and Sheila taught me how to live thru all lifes bs. Sheila loves "Chookie looc" and her "Fee-Fee" because she told me one night in her room she knew her Princesses would be Great Queens one day and God answered her prayers and gave her that strong queens so I see Sheila and Mecca smiling cause nothing hurts no more I”

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2. Anonymous said... on Jan 16, 2012 at 06:03AM

“Mecca and family r.i.p it's ur dear friend I miss u and you will never be forgotten. One love”

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3. Callie Phillips said... on Jan 8, 2013 at 06:31AM

“We went to school together ... We rode horses together , We played basketball and football together she was like a Cousin to my family mecca and my grandpa was so close ...I remember this day like no other I was only 13 years old and cryed until there was no more tears left...Rip Mecca I live my life through my childhood friends that were lost in west Philadelphia gone but not forgotten”

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4. robert benn said... on Mar 22, 2013 at 01:22AM

“My cousin was Darrell bynum he was a good man despite his street life.... everyday I ask that the 3 souls that was sent back to heaven is in gods grace”

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5. Anonymous said... on Apr 28, 2013 at 08:31AM

“Darrell aka Brother was a pervert/asshole.
His day was coming!!! Rest in hell.”

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6. Cynquetta b. said... on May 31, 2013 at 10:07PM

“Never and I mean never was my uncle anything but sweet. No matter what lifestyle he may have lived, nobody deserved to be murdered! Those who feel that way should look in the mirror. I lived with all 3 and I loved them all! Until we meet again ?✌”

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7. Anonymous said... on Oct 16, 2013 at 09:52PM

“How disgusting for this Neugent person to badmouth Hiner, whom he doesn't even know, when she has devoted her life to helping children. Shame on him and any others as indicated by the author in this "Black Cowboys Assoc.". They better clean up their act and stop acting like prejudiced bigots. If they were angels who taught children to ride, that's good. But they should not begrudge other angels merely because of their skin color. Something is VERY wrong there...

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