Morgan McCaffery broke off her yearlong relationship with Gilbert Newton III last month. But the 18-year-old agreed to meet her ex-boyfriend early Monday at a SEPTA station in Abington Township to talk.
There, police said, the discussion turned violent. Newton, also 18, stabbed and slashed McCaffery more than 30 times, and left her next to her idling car in the parking lot.
Not long afterward, Newton was arrested at his home in Philadelphia, and was charged late Monday with first- and third-degree murder, according to Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele.
“A young woman with her whole life ahead of her, just graduated from high school, was brutally stabbed to death,” Steele said. “This murder is a tragedy for her family, her friends, and for everyone who loved her. Sadly, we are seeing relationship violence and domestic violence far too often in this pandemic.”
Newton remained in custody at the county prison, with no bail due to the nature of his charges. He faces a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.
Passersby found McCaffery about 8:15 a.m. Monday, according to Abington Police Chief Patrick Molloy. She had been attacked after parking her car in a secluded, wooded area near the Meadowbrook Regional Rail station.
Witnesses told police they saw a white Jeep fleeing the scene. About an hour later, police in Philadelphia were called to Newton’s house, where a matching vehicle was parked outside.
Newton’s mother called 911 after he had returned home in blood-stained clothes and with injuries to his hands, according to the affidavit of probable cause in his arrest. The teen then confessed to the officers that he had stabbed McCaffery in the parking lot.
McCaffery’s current boyfriend later told detectives that Newton had been texting her the night before, and had asked to meet at the station to “discuss their breakup,” the affidavit said.
A friend of McCaffery’s separately told police that Newton had been abusive to her during their relationship, and had been recently attempting to patch things up with her, promising to “fix things,” according to the affidavit.
McCaffery recently graduated from Nazareth Academy, an all-girls Catholic school in Northeast Philadelphia. She was planning to attend Manor College in the fall to pursue a career in dental hygiene, according to a post on the high school’s Facebook page.
Her killing came two days after another fatal domestic assault in Montgomery County. Frederick J. Clea, 57, shot his wife and mother-in-law Saturday at their home in Cheltenham, according to police. Clea faces two counts of first-degree murder and related offenses.