A Wissinoming man killed his wife on the morning of Jan. 20 and, later in the day, shot two people to death in Northeast Philadelphia, the homicide captain of the Philadelphia Police Department announced Wednesday.
Police used phone records, video camera footage, ballistics, and other evidence to tie Donald Tillman, 36, to the slayings. Tillman shot his wife, Tyronda Harrington, 33, that morning in their home in the 2000 block of Carver Street, Capt. Jason Smith said at an afternoon news conference.
Police were called to the home at 3:28 a.m. and found Harrington in a second-floor bedroom suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, Smith said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Before fleeing the home, authorities said, Tillman attempted to kill a 14-year-old child. A 4-year-old was also in the home at the time of the slaying, they said.
After the shooting, Tillman drove to an apartment complex in the 9400 block of East Roosevelt Boulevard and fatally shot Nicole Newell, 43, then waited for Mark Ruff, 59, to come home and fatally shot him, too, Smith said. Both victims were shot in the back of the head.
Two days later, police were called to the apartment and found the bodies. Phone records indicated that Tillman and Ruff had spoken numerous times before the slayings, Smith said.
Why Tillman targeted his victims is not known, authorities said.
“It’s a horrific act,” Smith said of the slayings. The three killings are among 92 recorded so far this year, a 37% increase from this time last year.
Smith described the slaying of Tillman’s wife as “domestic-related” and added that the city has seen a spike in such killings this year. Five women were killed in domestic-related slayings this year, up from two at the same time last year, he said.
District Attorney Larry Krasner praised police investigators for their work in solving the cases and linking the slayings. He also lamented Tillman’s ability to illegally obtain a gun. As a felon, he was prohibited from purchasing one, the DA said.
“We may never know what motivated Donald Tillman to commit the horrifically violent crimes we allege he committed over the course of one day last January. But we do know that prohibitions on the lawful purchase of firearms placed on him as a convicted felon were essentially worthless, and that Pennsylvania is flooded with deadly weapons that are too cheap and too easily accessible,” Krasner said.
Tillman, who is being held without bail, was on probation for firearms violations at the time of the slayings, the DA’s office said.
A warrant for Tillman’s arrest in Harrington’s death was obtained on the day of the slaying, Smith said. Days later, investigators learned that the 9mm handgun used in her killing was also used in the double homicide, he said. Police later obtained surveillance video of Tillman wearing a distinctive black jacket that belonged to Ruff and was missing from the apartment after the slaying. They also obtained video of Tillman throwing Ruff’s stolen car keys into a dumpster, Smith said.
In the slaying of his wife, Tillman has been charged with murder, attempted murder, endangering the welfare of a child, corruption of minors, making terroristic threat, reckless endangerment and related charges.
In the double homicide, he is charged with two counts of murder and burglary, and related offenses.