PHILADELPHIA — A “drug nexus” is at the center of a brutal abduction that left two men dead in the Schuylkill River on Wednesday and a third in critical condition, Homicide Capt. James Clark said.
Capt. Clark said the men were “very much targeted,” and that the incident may have been gang-related.
Around 4 a.m. Wednesday, he said, a routine police patrol found a 23-year-old man walking near Kelly Drive, wearing only his underwear, with his hands and feet bound. He told officers that he and two friends had been abducted, stabbed, bound and thrown in the Schuylkill, Capt. Clark said.
The man’s friends were later found dead in shallow waters near the rowing grandstands, with their throats slit, chained to buckets filled with tar, a law enforcement source said. The men were pronounced dead at the scene, and the bodies were pulled from the water by just after 8 a.m.
Capt. Clark said the men had been tortured before they were killed. They had been stabbed multiple times. “It’s one of the more barbaric murders I’ve seen,” the captain said.
The men’s hands and wrists were duct-taped, Capt. Clark said. Two of them, including the surviving victim, had their faces duct-taped as well. The men who were killed had cloths duct-taped around their necks.
The surviving man was able to escape from the river because his abductors had not weighted him down, Capt. Clark said. He played dead as he was thrown into the river, a law enforcement source said.
Capt. Clark said all three men were abducted from the same location and driven to the river. A law enforcement source said the men had been stabbed at the location where they were abducted, and also at the river, just before they were thrown into the water. He declined to identify the victims or name the location from which they had been abducted.
The surviving victim lived on the 700 block of 2nd Street, Capt. Clark said. A crime scene unit was on hand there Wednesday afternoon.
Investigators had originally believed that they had spotted blood on the doorknob of the victim’s second-floor apartment and initially believed that the man may have been abducted from his home, a law enforcement source said. But crime-scene investigators determined that the substance on the doorknob was not blood, according to the source.
The men had not been abducted from the apartment, a law enforcement source said.
Capt. Clark said five to six people were involved in the crime, and that “some type of drug nexus” was at the crux of the case.