GERMANTOWN (WPVI) --A 64-year-old man was stabbed 77 times before the suspect returned to set him on fire, in what police are calling a horrific crime carried out by someone who was obviously enraged.
Residents say it all started with a putrid smell last week that traveled through the vents and narrow hallways of an apartment complex on the 500 block of East Church Lane in Philadelphia's Germantown section.
"I smelled it throughout the week - me and a couple of other neighbors," said James Wilson.
Wilson says he thought nothing of it. But a few days later, on Monday around 9 a.m., a fire erupted at apartment C-28.
Firefighters rushed to put out the flames. Then they made a gruesome discovery. It was the body of 64-year-old Robert Lynch, burned beyond recognition and in the advanced stages of decomposition.
"The apartment had been set on fire. So had the victim. It was unclear initially what caused his death, and then ultimately, after a postmortem examination, it was determined he was stabbed over 70 times, 77 times total," said Philadelphia Police Lt. Phillip Riehl.
Police say the killer stabbed the victim last week, then returned to light him on fire.
"I don't think he had to go through that. I don't think no one should go through that," said Wilson.
The apartment is now boarded up.
The charred front door is propped up just a few feet away. And you can hear the constant humming of powerful fans helping to circulate the air, each fan a disturbing reminder to residents of the horrific crime that happened down the hall.
"You can smell the smoke in the air. You can actually smell the body. I walked by there from time to time, now that we are allowed to walk that way," said resident Frankie Green.
"Living here, I hope the cameras get fixed in here. Because I want to move if the cameras don't get fixed. It's not safe," said Wilson.
Police say they have identified a person of interest, but are being tight-lipped about any additional details.
They are asking anyone with information to please come forward.