Philadelphia police make arrest in 1989 cold case murders

PHILADELPHIA - March 19, 2014

51-year-old Rudolph Churchill from the 200 block of Huff Street in Paulsboro, New Jersey, was taken into custody Wednesday morning near 12th and Fairmount streets in Philadelphia.

Churchill is charged with two counts of murder and related offenses.

The charges stem from the murder of two women - the first of which was discovered nearly 25 years ago to the day.

"Just because a case is cold doesn't mean we stop investigating," said Lt. John Stanford, Philadelphia Police.

It was approximately 3:35 a.m. on March 17, 1989 when police were called to 15th and Thompson streets for a rape in progress.

Arriving officers found the body of 19 year-old Ruby Ellis lying on the rear floor of an Oldsmobile that was in a lot with a number of abandon vehicles.

Ellis, from the 2500 block of West Girard Avenue, had been strangled and beaten.

The second murder happened on April 23, 1989. At 7:56 p.m. officers responded to the 1200 block of West Girard Avenue for a body discovered inside a bar.

The bar had been burned out and vacant for months, and inside on the second floor officers found the body of 33 year-old Cheryl Hanible.

Hanible, from the 2100 block of South 58th Street, had been deceased for a while before she was found - her body decomposed. The victim had a shoe string tied around her neck and a sock was stuffed in her mouth.

She was later identified through fingerprints. The cause of death was ruled Ligature Strangulation.

Through DNA evidence taken from the scene of the murders, investigators made a positive match with a convicted offender, identified as Churchill.

Churchill had served time in Georgia, which is where the matching DNA sample was taken. He had since been released by the time the match was made, but detectives learned he now had a home in New Jersey.

"Investigators were able to make contact with the defendant in a location in Jersey. Once they made contact with him, through a search and seizure warrant, they were able to get a DNA sample," said Lt. Stanford.

Based on the results of both tests and other evidence an arrest was approved for the defendant.

"That's the great thing about technology. It helps us to solve some of these old cases and you are talking about homicide and rapes and definitely a great tool for police," said Lt. Stanford.

Churchill was then taken into custody without incident however police say he has not been cooperating with them.

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