Vigil for father of 2, woman found dead in possible North Philadelphia arson

NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A vigil was held Wednesday night for a father of two young daughters and a woman who were found dead inside a neighbor's home following a possible arson in North Philadelphia on Wednesday morning.

Family members identify the male victim as 33-year-old Steven Tomoney.

Residents say Tomoney did not live in the home on the 2700 block of North 9th Street but was a neighbor who just happened to be inside.

"We were praying that he was not in there, come to find out he was in there," said his father, Van Coles.

Tomoney leaves behind a newborn baby and a 6-year-old daughter.

"It is unbelievable, it hasn't sunk in yet. That was my oldest son. He was a good guy," said Coles.

The other victim is described as a woman in her 20s or 30s. The relationship between the victims has yet to be explained by authorities.

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Woman, father of 2 found dead in possible North Philadelphia arson. Gray Hall reports during Action News at 4pm on July 11, 2018.

Family members say at the time of the fire the homeowner was filing a report at the police station about an altercation that happened the day before. Those living in the community say the homeowner was robbed and beaten.

Neighbors say threats were made about setting the house on fire, and they believe the person followed through with the violent promise.

One family member says he heard the threat and saw the violence.

"It wasn't even a fight, he sucker punched him. He struck him and his mouth was busted up and after that he was like, 'I heard you say my sister told me that you would burn my mom's house down, but I will burn your crib down and you won't be living there no more,'" said family member Marvin Edwards.

The fire broke out just before 2 a.m. Wednesday. Arriving crews found the fast-moving flames on the second story of a middle row home. The fire, though, was quickly placed under control.
The father of two was found on the first floor and the woman was located on the second floor. They were pronounced dead at the scene.

Family and friends surrounded the home waiting to get additional details as authorities removed the bodies. One woman collapsed as she was overcome by grief.

Action News spoke with Tomoney's uncle, Julius Coles, who is mourning the loss of his loved one.

"It just really hurts to know that somebody who you're close to and you lose them. It hurts your heart," Coles said.

Tomoney's 6-year-old daughter, Soraya, who was not yet aware of the unimaginable tragedy, stood smiling and cheerful just outside of the fire-gutted home late Wednesday morning. She was surrounded by family who now vow to keep her father's memory alive.

"His daughter really, really loved's going to really hurt her to hear that her father is no longer here," Coles said.

Action News has learned two dogs were rescued from the home. The investigation into the fire is ongoing.
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2 found dead after North Philadelphia fire. Jeannette Reyes reports during Action News Mornings on July 11, 2018.

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2 dead in North Philadelphia fire. Jeannette Reyes reports during Action News Mornings on July 11, 2018.

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