Editor’s note: This obituary is presented in partnership with The Philadelphia Obituary Project, a nonprofit committed to memorializing city victims of homicide whose deaths have otherwise been overlooked.
Charles Maude III was still figuring out what he wanted to do with his life. All he knew was that no matter what, he was going to be the best father ever.
At 17, Mr. Maude, known as Chuckie, met his girlfriend, Bella Garcia, who at the time already had a 3-year-old daughter, Sherlyaniz. The child, who they called “Shay Shay,” was not his biological daughter, but you couldn’t tell Mr. Maude that.
Instantly, they formed a bond, and even though Shay Shay couldn’t understand English and Mr. Maude couldn’t understand Spanish, they were inseparable.
Three years later, he and Garcia would have a daughter of their own, Isabella.
“When he had his daughter, I went to the hospital with him and I remember him looking at her and he started crying. I asked him why he was crying, he said ‘I never felt this way before,’” said Jennifer Meleski, Mr. Maude’s mother. “I told him, ‘That’s how I feel about you.’”
He had worked at his brother’s moving company and did work in construction, but his path was unclear. After serving a few months in jail, Mr. Maude was released in December 2020 and was ready to change his life for the better.
He started showing up on time to his probation meetings and was going to therapy. He was hard on himself, but only because he wanted the best for himself and his family.
“He wanted to just become a better person,” said Jennifer Maude, his sister. “When he came home, I definitely saw a different side to him. He just wanted to do better, you could tell.”
For a short time, Mr. Maude was living with his sister to save up for his own car, a black 2002 Mercedes-Benz. He was overjoyed about the car, but unfortunately, he only spent two weeks with it.
On March 12, 2021, after dropping off his youngest daughter at his mother’s house, he was shot inside his car, which was parked on Emerald Street in Port Richmond, where he lived. Mr. Maude, 24, died two days later at the hospital. Police have not made any arrests.
Mr. Maude was born on May 29, 1996 in Kensington to Meleski and Charles Maude II. In addition to his older sister, he had three younger brothers, Michael Maude, Anthony Meleski and Gabe Rivera. Mr. Maude also had two step-siblings, Destini and Joseph Tomaselli.
Since he was the oldest boy, Mr. Maude became the man of the house at a young age and was known as the protector of the family. If his brothers got in trouble, he was the first person they’d call.
“Everyone respected Chuckie, even from a young age, kids, adults, everyone respected him,” his mother said.
Mr. Maude never finished high school, but was studying to get his GED in hopes of starting his own construction company. He learned everything he knew about construction from his father.
“He really might not have told his dad that much, but he really admired and looked up to his father, like he wanted to do everything that his father did,” Jennifer Meleski said. “He was really proud of his father.”
But Mr. Maude was easily a momma’s boy, his mother said with a laugh. A while back, she wrote him a letter apologizing for not being able to give him a better childhood. He wrote back, and she never leaves home without the note.
She read part of it out loud: “I just got your cards yesterday. Thank you and cut it out, people grow up, we live and we learn. I would never hold a grudge towards you for anything. I love you more than life itself.”
More than anything, Mr. Maude wanted to give his daughters, Shay Shay, 10, and Isabella, 4, the life they deserved. While he wasn’t always able to provide financially, he was there for them emotionally.
He took Shay Shay to school every morning, and if the weather was nice, he’d take the girls to Penns Landing or the park. But they mostly hung out at his mother’s house and spent time together as a family.
“He was a great dad. He loved his daughters,” Jennifer Maude said. “He’d do anything for those little girls. Those little girls were his life.”
His mother agrees.
“He’d call Shay Shay his best friend. He said, ‘I can talk to her about anything. She doesn’t judge me, she just loves me,’” Meleski said.
To describe Mr. Maude in one word would be impossible, his family said, but if you had to, it would be “genuine.”
“He was a kindhearted soul,” Jennifer Maude said. “I think he would want to be remembered for the little girls, and the way he cared and protected everybody. He was just a good person, I don’t know why anybody would want to do this to him.”
A reward of up to $50,000 is available for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for Mr. Maude’s death. Anonymous calls can be submitted by calling the Citizens Crime Commission at 215-546-TIPS.