Three Philadelphia teens have been charged as adults in the beating death of a 57-year-old homeless man.
Brandon Conrad, 14, Malik Page, 16, and Emmanual Harris, 17, were charged Monday in the November 26 death of Kevin Cullen, KYW-TV reports.
Cullen was “set upon and attacked” by a group of teens and then found unconscious on the sidewalk on by officers responding to a report of a robbery, police said. The incident occurred on Loring Street in the Holmesburg neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia. Cullen, who lived in Mayfair, was taken to Aria-Torresdale Hospital and died on November 27. Police said they believe five teens were involved in the brutal attack, but police said no other arrests are planned.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A Witness Says the Teens Were Laughing & ‘Hit His Head Into a Wall So Hard I Felt It in My House on the 2nd Floor’
Philadelphia Police have said the motive for the November 26 attack was robbery, but the incident took a violent turn, according to witnesses.
“They were laughing, like it was funny,” a Mayfair resident told WPVI-TV about the group of teens. “They hit his head into a wall so hard I felt it in my house on the second floor.”
Police responded to reports of a robbery in progress and found the unresponsive and dying victim, Kevin Cullen. A woman, named Donna, stayed with Cullen until police arrived, according to his family.
“Especially, the woman, Donna, who sat with him when he was dying. Glad somebody was there to show him compassion when he was dying,” Cullen’s brother, Tom, told WTXF-TV.
Police announced the charges against 14-year-old Brandon Conrad, 16-year-old Malik Page and 17-year-old Emmanuel Harris, on December 4. A fourth person was also present during the attack, but he or she has not been charged, police said.
Surveillance video showed the teens following Cullen before attacking him out of the camera’s frame.
“The motive was robbery,” Captain Jack Ryan, the commanding officer of the Philadelphia Police Homicide unit, told reporters at a press conference. “Mr. Cullen’s pockets were turned out, the investigation led us to believe that as well. Nothing was taken.”
Cullen died of blows to the head, police said.
“To hear they were laughing and thought it was a joke. It’s just disgusting,” Tom Cullen told WTXF-TV.
2. The Teens Are Students at Abraham Lincoln High School in Philadelphia
The three teens – Brandon Conrad, Malik Page and Emmanual Harris, were all students at Abraham Lincoln High School in Philadelphia, police said.
“During the week with the assistance of the school board police, juvenile probation, Philadelphia police officers assigned to Lincoln High School in the 15th District, we were able to develop suspects during the course of the week,” Captain Jack Ryan said at a press conference. The teens were arrested Sunday morning. “Detectives were working pretty much non-stop.”
Conrad lives in the 4600 block of Oakmont Street, Page lives in the 4700 block of Oakmont Street and Harris is a resident of the 4400 block of Shelmire Street, police said.
“They run around in the same group,” Ryan said. According to Ryan, police have not had any prior contact with the three teens, but they are looking at them in connection with other assaults reported, including one in which a teen who is friends with them was arrested.
A cell phone was found at the scene and that helped in the investigation, Ryan said, but he would not comment on whether the attack was recorded by the teens or streamed live on the Internet.
3. Cullen Was ‘Loved Deeply’ & Was ‘Intelligent & Funny Even Through His Ups & Downs,’ His Family Says
Kevin Cullen lived a transient lifestyle, bouncing from place to place, police said. But his family told local news stations that he was always in their hearts.
“We didn’t get to see him too often. He would come in and out of our lives,” his brother, Tom Cullen, told WPVI-TV. “He was not abandoned, he was not unloved. He was loved deeply.”
Tom Cullen told Philly.com his brother was “intelligent and funny even through his ups and downs.”
Mark Cullen told the newspaper that his brother struggled with alcohol. Kevin was one of six children and grew up just around the corner from where he died.
“He’d be somebody you’d see on the street all the time, and maybe you’d help him out, maybe you wouldn’t, Mark Cullen told the newspaper. “But he wasn’t aggressive or mean or any of those things.”
Kevin Cullen, who graduated from Father Judge High School in 1979, loved rock music, including Kiss and the Who.
“It’s going to haunt me for a long time,” Mark Cullen said of his brother’s death.
4. A Vigil Was Held for Cullen in the Mayfair Neighborhood Where He Grew Up & Was a ‘Fixture’
A vigil was held for Cullen in the Mayfair neighborhood, where he grew up and was well known to the residents. Police Captain Jack Ryan told reporters that none of the neighbors interviewed by officers had a bad thing to say about Cullen, calling it a tragedy that he was killed.
“He lived the way he wanted to live, we always thought of him, we never forgot about him,” Tom Cullen told KYW-TV at the vigil. “He was a fixture in the neighborhood. People knew him.”
Local resident Milt Martelack told WTXF-TV he often gave Cullen a helping hand and gave him a haircut last week.
“I’d seen him Saturday night, last time I saw him. I brought him and Dave, another homeless guy something to eat, hello and said guys be careful,” Martelack told the news station.
His funeral was held Sunday.
5. The Teens Are All Charged With Murder, Robbery, Conspiracy & Related Offenses
Page, Conrad and Harris, were all charged Sunday with murder, robbery, conspiracy and related charges, police said.
According to court records, the trio appeared before a judge on December 3 and were denied bail. They are scheduled to return to court for a preliminary hearing on December 20.
A resident of the neighborhood told WPVI-TV that burglaries and robberies are common.
“It happens all the time around here. It’s just not reported because it’s small crime,” Donna Fricker told the news station.
Residents said they are planning to start a block watch. “That could have been my dad. That could have been me,” Elizabeth Wedge told WPVI.
“Committing robberies is not the answer for boredom,” Captain Jack Ryan said at a press conference. “It’s not a rite of passage, it can have tragic consequences, and this man died as a result of it. And these three young men are going to go to jail for some time.”