English: Map of Philadelphia County highlighting Center City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The video Philadelphia police posted online represented a major break in a horrific case – capturing images of a group suspected in a vicious Center City attack on a gay couple.
The suspects in the video – a group of young men and women, laughing, smiling and dressed for a night out – had allegedly mocked two men walking near Rittenhouse Square before beating them badly, sending both to the hospital. One of the men was also robbed, police said.
Word spread, and within hours, people took to Twitter and the Internet, trawling through social media in an attempt to identify the men and women in the video and forwarding their findings to police.
As detectives in the case zeroed in on the suspects and fielded tips, the online effort to identify them became something of a crowdsourced investigation.
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The young man accused of torturing three elderly women Friday in their Clay Township home was apprehended swiftly because of collaborative efforts among local police.
That was the message Monday from Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman, who led a press conference confirming a litany of charges against 22-year-old Dereck Taylor Holt, who is believed to have targeted the women solely because of his as yet unexplained hatred for members of the Mennonite faith.
“This is one of the most serious crimes that we’ve had in Lancaster County history, one of the most heinous crimes that didn’t result in a homicide,” Stedman said.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” he said.
“To say that I’m shocked by this — we’re all shocked by this — is an understatement.”
Two Schuylkill County men were found guilty of federal hate crimes in the beating death of a Mexican immigrant, Luis Ramirez. Brandon Piekarsky (18) and Derrick Donchak (20), both of Shenandoah, were convicted by a jury in Scranton. Donchak was also convicted of two other counts relating to a cover-up plot with Shenandoah Police. At the time ol the 2008 beating, the accused were high school football players.
Both men were taken away in handcuffs and ordered held until their January 24th sentencing. They were acquitted of more serious charges by a jury in Pottsville.
Two Shenandoah police officers will go on trial early next year for their role in the attempted cover-up.