Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Woman charged with abuse of corpse in death of Delco musician

Donna Morelli has close ties to Mount Moriah Cemetery and the Warlocks Motorcycle Club.

Donna Morelli
Donna MorelliRead morePhiladelphia Police

A Southwest Philadelphia woman with close ties to Mount Moriah Cemetery and the Warlocks Motorcycle Club was arrested and charged Thursday in relation to the discovery of the body of a 36-year-old Delaware County musician last month in a crypt at the cemetery.

Donna Morelli, 48, of the 6400 block of Trinity Street, was charged with conspiracy, hindering apprehension, abuse of corpse, and related offenses in connection with the disposal of Keith Palumbo’s body. She was not accused in his death.

The remains of a second man, who police believe was David Rossillo of Drexel Hill, were also found in the crypt. No charges were filed against Morelli in that case and the cause of his death remains undetermined.

Morelli was released after posting bail Thursday. Efforts to reach her have been unsuccessful and her attorney, William Davis Jr. of Media, did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

The Philadelphia police homicide unit did not immediately respond to questions Friday.

Authorities believe that Michael DeLuca, an alleged member of the Warlocks, fatally shot Palumbo in DeLuca’s Southwest Philadelphia apartment on Feb. 6. Police have issued an arrest warrant for DeLuca, 38, on charges of murder, conspiracy, abuse of corpse, and related offenses. He remains in federal custody after being arrested in Wyoming in an unrelated case.

Earlier this month, police arrested Billy Gibson, 47, of Drexel Hill, and charged him with conspiracy, hindering apprehension, and abuse of corpse in connection with the disposal of Palumbo’s body.

Morelli was until recently a member of the board of directors of the Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, the nonprofit formed to preserve the cemetery, which closed in 2011. She lives across from the cemetery and was instrumental in cleanup efforts there.

She had been married to Eric Martinson, a former leader of the local Warlocks, who died in September 2015, according to an obituary. A daughter of Martinson’s later said that the two were not actually married. In 2016, Philadelphia Magazine described Morelli as having “tattooed arms and biker-gang ties” that “give her the aura of a Wild West outlaw."

According to the affidavit of probable cause for Gibson’s arrest, he and another man went with Palumbo to DeLuca’s apartment on the 7000 block of Woodland Avenue on Feb. 6. The second man, who is unnamed, told police that all four were “associated with the Warlocks Motorcycle Club."

The two-story Woodland Avenue building is owned by Warlocks MC LLC, and property records list Morelli’s home as the mailing address for the property.

The witness told police that DeLuca shot Palumbo in the face, but the affidavit does not say why. DeLuca then allegedly ordered the witness and Gibson to cut up the bloodstained carpet and roll Palumbo’s body in it, the affidavit says.

DeLuca then went to Morelli’s home and returned in her red pickup truck, and he and Gibson placed Palumbo’s body in the pickup and left, the witness told police.

A relative of Palumbo’s has said that Palumbo and DeLuca knew each other as childhood friends in Drexel Hill.

Four days after the April 3 discovery of Palumbo’s body, police interviewed a second witness, who allegedly told them that DeLuca said he killed Palumbo and needed help disposing the body.

This second witness told of accompanying DeLuca and Gibson to the cemetery, where DeLuca and Gibson allegedly threw Palumbo’s body into the crypt.

Rossillo, who police believe was the other man found in the crypt, would have been 35 on Friday. Homicide Capt. Jason Smith said this month that police do not believe DeLuca was responsible in his death.

DeLuca has been jailed awaiting court proceedings since his April 2 arrest in Wyoming on a weapons charge.

Gibson remains in custody at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Northeast Philadelphia. The Defender Association of Philadelphia, listed as representing him, has declined to comment on his case.