Conflicting stories about stabbing of retired police officer in Port Richmond

PORT RICHMOND - August 19, 2013

Investigators say it was around 2:00 a.m. Monday that 56-year-old retired police officer George Orth was stabbed in the chest inside his home in the 3000 block of Salmon Street.

There are two vastly different stories emerging about what led to the stabbing: the one being given by Orth, and the version given by the man accused of stabbing him, 31-year-old Joe Fitzgerald, who talked to me Monday night.

"I was having a great time, you know the guy was going to help me out," Fitzgerald said. "I was happy and was fine until he started getting weird on me."

Fitzgerald says he met Orth while having drinks at Donna's Bar near Richmond and Allegheny late Sunday night.

He says Orth offered to help him find side work for the weekends and invited him to his house to talk about it over some shots of Sambuca.

Fitzgerald says that's what they were doing when things got crazy.

"He took his whole shot. I only sipped mine, because things were weird. I could feel it. He was getting closer," said Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald alleges Orth began making sexual advances towards him, which he refused.

"I tried pushing him off, and he just kept trying to hold on to me," he said.

Fitzgerald says he panicked, ran, and never called the police.

Orth was stabbed once in the chest and was treated at Temple University Hospital.

Monday night we caught up with him at his home. He spoke to us from a second-floor window. "I just got home," he said. "I'd rather him not film me now," referring to our cameraman.

Orth declined to speak with us, but Fraternal Order of Police Vice President John McGrody spoke well of him.

"I can tell you that George Orth is one of the best cops we've ever had in the city of Philadelphia," he said.

McGrody said there are numerous reports about exactly what happened.

"There's a neighbor that had some sort of problem from what we understand. George brought the individual into his house to calm the individual down, the individual at some point turned on George, stabbed him," said McGrody. "He's very lucky with where he was stabbed doing as well as he is tonight."

McGrody says there are other witnesses in the home that can corroborate the retired officer's story.

East Detectives is handling the investigation. Joe Fitzgerald says he will turn himself in to police tomorrow.

Copyright © 2023 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.