'Cold-blooded killing': 2 charged in murder of mother shot in Dunkin' drive-thru

Rachel King, a 35-year-old mother and teacher at Grover Cleveland Elementary School in Philadelphia, was shot dead on April 11.

Thursday, April 27, 2023
2 charged in murder of mother shot in Dunkin' drive-thru
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Rachel King, a 35-year-old mother and teacher at Grover Cleveland Elementary School in Philadelphia, was shot dead on April 11.

CHELTENHAM TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Authorities in Montgomery County have announced the arrests of two people in connection with the killing of a Cheltenham Township mother.

Zakkee Steven Alhakim, 33, of Philadelphia, and Julie Jean, 34, of Elkins Park, are both charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Rachel King, a 35-year-old mother and teacher at Grover Cleveland Elementary School in Philadelphia.

King was shot dead in a Dunkin' drive-thru lane at the Melrose Shopping Center back on April 11 in Cheltenham Township.

"This cold-blooded killing of Rachel King was a targeted murder of an innocent person, planned by these two defendants and horrifically carried out in front of King's son," said Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele. "It is a tragic killing of a good person, all because of an ended affair."

During a press conference on Wednesday, authorities say Alhakim and Jean planned and conspired to murder King, who was the longtime girlfriend of William Hayes.

According to investigators, Jean and Hayes had an affair last year, and after Hayes broke it off, Jean continued to text, call and harass both King and Hayes, prompting Hayes to obtain a Protection From Abuse Order against Jean.

On the day of the murder, Alhakim allegedly parked a Mercury Sable a short distance away, then walked to the driver's side of King's Ford Edge and shot her multiple times.

Officers found six 9mm fired cartridge casings at the scene.

King's 11-year-old son was in the backseat of the car at the time. He was not injured.

King's boyfriend William Hayes told Action News she was taking her son to violin practice when she was shot.

Tracking down the suspects

Investigators say King was followed from her residence in the Lynnewood Gardens apartments by the silver Mercury Sable driven by Alhakim.

Alhakim also allegedly stalked the victim and waited outside of her residence in the days leading up to the murder.

Cell phone evidence determined that Jean reached out to Alhakim and added his phone number under "Zah" to her contacts in mid-February.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Alhakim grew up with the father of Jean's children.

Authorities say Alhakim saved a screen capture to his phone of a Google map of the victim's apartment complex. There was a pin marking King's exact residence and a red arrow showing a route to travel directly to the victim's residence.

On Alhakim's phone, there was allegedly a photo of the victim displayed on a cellphone held by a woman now identified as Jean. The photo was reportedly taken on Feb. 25, 2023, at 2:17 p.m., less than 30 minutes after Alhakim allegedly shared his real-time location with Jean for them to meet up.

Minutes later, authorities say a screen capture of a photo montage of Rachel King was saved on Alhakim's phone.

After King's murder, authorities say both Alhakim and Jean tried to delete information from their cell phones, with Jean deleting 787 texts just 13 minutes prior to her interview with detectives on April 12.

The communication was later recovered by law enforcement.

On the day of the murder, authorities say Jean sent Alhakim a message on CashApp with a payment of $5, with the emoji message that is interpreted to mean "link up, message me, no phones, that's it."

Investigators say Alhakim obtained the Mercury Sable on March 30, 2023, less than two weeks before the murder, when Alhakim and Jean went together to buy it at a shop on 61st Street in Philadelphia. The vehicle was purchased in Julie Jean's name.

SEE ALSO: Woman shot, killed at Cheltenham Twp. drive-thru identified; photo released of suspect's vehicle

Vehicle spotted in Philadelphia

In the hours after King was murdered, Philadelphia police spotted the Mercury Sable.

When officers attempted to stop the Mercury Sable, authorities say the vehicle being driven by Alhakim fled at a high rate of speed until it crashed into a fence on 16th Street.

Alhakim was taken into custody. He was also allegedly involved in an unrelated murder in Philadelphia on April 7.

In the Philadelphia murder, eleven 9mm fired cartridge casings were recovered. The evidence was entered into Montgomery County's new NIBIN (National Integrated Ballistic Information Network) machine which linked both murders, authorities said.

Jean was later arrested. She is being held at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility without bail.

Alhakim is currently in custody at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia.

SEE ALSO: Family of teacher shot, killed in Dunkin' drive-thru speaks to Action News

Community in mourning

King was a loving mother who was working towards a master's degree and getting her principal's certificate.

Her school community is still grieving her loss.

"She was one of the best teachers, she did her very best at this school, very best," said student Charise Jones earlier this month.

"We are devastated by the loss of an extraordinary teacher, who spent the last 10 years working with our students and their families," the Mastery Schools said in a statement.

King's brother Allen says the family has been rallying behind her 11-year-old son.

"Getting him the help he needs, getting him in front of a trauma counselor, a child psychiatrist. I can't imagine what's going through his head," he said.

"She loved that school, she loved teaching, she loved her students, they loved her back and you could just feel it," added Allen.

Shooting death of James "Chris" Farrell Jr.

Alhakim was also charged on Wednesday in a second deadly shooting that took place on April 7.

READ: Man charged in murder of mother shot in Dunkin' drive-thru also charged in second homicide

Montgomery County officials say Alhakim allegedly shot and killed 36-year-old James "Chris" Farrell Jr. on the 5100 block of North Broad Street.

Officials announced that the ballistics from Farrell's scene matched with what was found at King's scene.

"I'm at ease because I know where he is, and I don't have to worry anymore," said Farrell's parents. "Then the fact this young man is in jail, and it kind of brought some closure."

The Farrells also went on to say they are grateful to the 35th district and homicide detectives who solved the case so quickly to give them closure.