Indictment in '04 fire that killed 6

April 8, 2009 4:29:35 PM PDT
Federal and local officials announced charges against a man who, they say, set a fire that killed six people, including five members of the same family. That man, Kaboni Savage, was one of four charged in what investigators call a violent drug organization that operated primarily in the North Philadelphia area from at least late 1997 to August 2007.

Savage, formerly of Darien Street in Philadelphia, is accused of starting a fire on October 9, 2004 that killed the six, including four children.

Investigators say Savage wanted to retaliate against Eugene Coleman, a former associate. Authorities say Coleman was cooperating with federal law enforcement by promising to testify against Savage in a federal drug trial.

According to an indictment released Wednesday, Savage firebombed the Coleman family home in the 3200 block of North Sixth Street.

Killed in the fire were Coleman's mother Marcella Coleman, 54; Coleman's infant son, Damir Jenkins, 15 months old; Marcella Coleman's niece, Tameka Nash, 34; her daughter, Khadjah Nash,10; Marcella Coleman's grandson Tahj Porchea, 12; and a family friend, Sean Rodriguez, 15.

RELATED SLIDESHOW: The victims of the October '04 fire

"In laughing with an associate about the funeral for the Coleman family, Savage said they should pour barbecue sauce on the victims," said U.S. Attorney Laurie Magid.

Savage has continued to deny any involvement in that massacre.

He is considered so dangerous, he is confined to a maximum security prison in Colorado in a cell next to convicted 9/11 co-conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.

Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross remembers being called to the scene of the fire.

"I'll never forget being at that scene Saturday morning and the looks of shock and dismay on the faces of the neighbors, firefighters, and detectives at the scene," Ross said.

The scorched row house still stands, and neighbors are still haunted by the memories.

"I hope that justice is served," said neighbor Elisa Qgundo. "I knew this family for 25 years."

Savage, along with three others, were also charged in the indictment for a number of other murders. The others accused are: Lamont Lewis, 32, formerly of Washington Avenue in Philadelphia; Robert Merritt, 28, formerly of Alden Street in Philadelphia; and Steven Northington, 37, former of Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

The indictment also alleges the following murders and shootings:

  • the March 19, 1998, murder of Kenneth Lassiter, age 44, of Lansdale, PA, by Kaboni Savage, near the corner of 8th and Butler Streets in Philadelphia;
  • the August 2, 2000 murder of Mansur "Shafiq"Abdullah, age 22, of 11th Street, Philadelphia, by Kaboni Savage and Kareem Bluntly (now deceased). Abdullah was shot and his burned body was later recovered in the 4200 block of North Park Avenue, in Philadelphia;
  • The September 13, 2001 murder of Carlton "Mohammed" Brown, age 27, of Darien Street, Philadelphia, by Lamont Lewis, at 2800 South 64th Street, in Philadelphia;
  • The February 26, 2003 murder of Barry Parker, age 32, of Susquehanna Avenue, Philadelphia, by Kaboni Savage and Steven Northington, in the 3900 block of North Franklin Street, in Philadelphia;
  • The March 14, 2003 murder of Tyrone Toliver, age 26, of Cherry Hill, NJ, by Kaboni Savage and Kareem Bluntly, in the 3500 block of North Palmetto Street in Philadelphia;
  • The March 1, 2004 murder of Tybius Flowers, age 32, of K Street, by Kaboni Savage and Steven Northington, in the 3700 block of N. 8th Street in Philadelphia; and
  • The July 25, 2007, shooting of a person only identified as AS, age 59, by Lamont Lewis, in North Philadelphia.

If convicted of all counts, each defendant faces a sentence of death or mandatory life imprisonment.

It could be a year before Savage and his co-defendants go to trial.

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