Philadelphia police were questioning a suspect Monday in the weekend killing of a pregnant woman and her unborn child, but investigators say they were still collecting evidence and charges were not yet filed.
Authorities said Jessica Covington, 32, was shot multiple times in the head and stomach just after 8:30 p.m. Saturday on the 6100 block of Palmetto Street in Crescentville, where she lived. Detectives believe she had just left her own baby shower and was unloading gifts from her vehicle when shots rang out.
Joanne Pescatore, assistant supervisor of the homicide and nonfatal shootings unit in the District Attorney’s Office, said Monday that police had identified a suspect, but she would not identify the person or comment on a potential motive. She said investigators had recovered video footage from the block where the shooting occurred, but said several streetlights were out, and the video is “extremely” dark.
Police Chief Inspector Frank Vanore said homicide detectives were conducting “a lot of interviews,” but could not confirm a suspect was among them. He said they were executing search warrants and analyzing other evidence and described the investigation as “very active.”
District Attorney Larry Krasner, who said during a news conference that the slaying made him “sick,” said it is “very likely” that whoever is charged in connection with the killing will face two counts of murder, one each for the mother and her unborn child. He said homicide detectives “have been working nonstop and doing an amazing job with this case.”
Mayor Jim Kenney on Sunday announced the city is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, a $30,000 increase from the typical reward offered in homicide cases.
Members of Covington’s family, reached by phone Monday, declined interview requests.
Friends and neighbors gathered Monday night at the Lawncrest Recreation Center to release purple and white balloons in remembrance of Covington, and loved ones set up a poster board with photos and an image from an ultrasound. They said she was pregnant with a daughter, whom she intended to name Cyre.
“She was super excited to be a mom,” said Jivonna Taggert, 32, who first met Covington at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School.
Others described as Covington as “the life of the party,” and a person who loved to connect social groups to one another.
Teesh Adams, 31, said Covington years ago started coordinating annual Thanksgiving meals with friends, but that last year, they didn’t get together because of the pandemic.
And this year’s Friendsgiving hadn’t happened yet, she said through tears.
“She was just so happy,” Adams said. “This was the only way they could take away her joy.”
Six people were killed over the weekend in Philadelphia as the city seems on pace to record more than 500 homicides for 2021, the highest annual total in generations, topping the record set in 1990.
On Friday afternoon, 24-year-old Sykea Patton was walking with her 5-year-old twins on the 800 block of North Preston Street when she was shot multiple times in the torso. She was taken to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, where she died.
Pescatore said her killing was domestic in nature and that charges will be filed against an ex-boyfriend, whom she did not name.