A 14-year-old girl has surrendered herself to police in Philadelphia after an alert was released that she may be armed and dangerous. Her crime… beating a 59-year old animal rescue worker to death in his bed with a nail studded wood plank.
According to Metro’s Jimmy McClosky, neighbors called police after hearing screams coming from the residence of Al Chernoff, a well-known animal rescue worker who had previously appeared on reality tv.
A neighbor entered the residence to check on Chernoff and found him nude and tied to a bed with a massive head wound and lacerations to the chest. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Robert Moran reports that when medics arrived around 3 a.m., Chernoff was pronounced dead at the scene.
Chernoff, an Army veteran, had home security cameras which revealed a teen girl had been in his home the night of the murder.
The 14-year-old is a suspected prostitute, according to McClosky. Police have released footage which showed that the teen seemed to comfortably stroll through the house. She went to wash her hands at one point and even peruse the contents of the refrigerator before leaving.
Early reports indicated it may have been a robbery gone awry. However, FOX 6 Now reports that it may now believe it to be more complicated. Attorney Howard Taylor, representing the girl, made a statement to CNN indicating that she is currently in juvenile detention. He further commented:
“It’s a very sad situation. Troubled girl. There’s a reason police aren’t saying much. There’s a lot more to it.”
Reporters inquired of Taylor if the girl was a victim to which he responded “wouldn’t put it to that extent,” but also commented that “he [Chernoff] wasn’t totally innocent, either.”
Acting Philadelphia Police Commissioner Christine Coulter said in a statement to CBS:
“It’s extremely troubling, it was a brutal murder and to think that there was anybody doing this but a child, but then you have to look to why did this happen and that’s what the investigators are going to try to find out.”
Chernoff, who went by the nickname “Alley Cat”, had no criminal history and worked at Philadelphia National Airport. His true calling, though, was his work in feline rescue. He had been featured on NATGeoTV’s reality show Rescue Ink, Moran reports.
Chernoff, along with other bikers, worked to fight animal abuse. As an airport employee, he regularly helped in caring for rescue animals that were flown in and out of the airport. In a statement on Facebook, rescue group The Cat Rescuers wrote:
“The world is just a little bit colder today without this wonderful human being. Please take a moment to tell the cat rescuers in your life what they mean to you. We will never forget you, Al… We lost a gracious soul.”
Angel Ruffo, a friend of Al Chernoff’s reflected:
“‘Al was amazing. Anything you needed, he would do. He was known for building shelters for all the feral and stray cats in the city. He was a good man. He was always there when you needed him.”
The relationship between Chernoff and the teen is not yet clear. The girl, who voluntarily surrendered herself to police while being escorted by her mother and two attorneys, has been charged with obstruction of justice, tampering with evidence, possession of an instrument used in a crime and murder. She is set to appear in court in late November.
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