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Edward Cameron, longtime Philadelphia homicide prosecutor, dies at 66

His colleagues recalled Mr. Cameron as humble, honest, and hard-working. He tried many high-profile cases as a homicide prosecutor.

Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron, shown with Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore, during a news conference at the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office.
Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron, shown with Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore, during a news conference at the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office.Read moreTOM GRALISH/ STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/File

Edward Cameron, 66, a longtime Philadelphia prosecutor who handled some of the city’s highest-profile homicide cases, died Monday, Oct. 19, of brain cancer at his home in the Wissahickon neighborhood.

His colleagues at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office recalled Mr. Cameron as humble, honest, hardworking, and devoted to victims.

“Ed was as honest as the day was long, but would drop whatever he was doing to help anybody in the unit, in the office,” said Joanne Pescatore, an interim assistant chief in the District Attorney’s Homicide and Nonfatal Shooting Unit. “He tried a ton of cases and he had so much experience.”

Mr. Cameron prosecuted Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted of killing three babies who were born alive at Gosnell’s West Philadelphia abortion clinic; John “Jordan” Lewis, who fatally shot Police Officer Chuck Cassidy on Halloween 2007; Tam Minh Le, who with others bound, beat, stabbed, and dumped three men into the Schuylkill, killing two brothers; and demolition contractor Griffin Campbell and excavator operator Sean Benschop, who were charged in the deadly 2013 collapse of the Salvation Army thrift store.

Jennifer Selber, who now heads the criminal division for the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, prosecuted Cassidy’s killer and the Salvation Army collapse cases with Cameron.

“He was really so highly honored to prosecute Chuck Cassidy’s killer,” said Selber. “You saw his love for police officers, love for the city. He brought a tremendous amount of care to Officer Cassidy’s family.”

The collapse case, on the other hand, was “highly complicated and technical,” she said, adding: “Ed was very far-reaching in his ability to handle complex criminal litigation.” Selber was chief of the District Attorney’s Homicide Unit and Mr. Cameron was the assistant chief during Campbell’s trial and Benschop’s guilty plea to involuntary manslaughter.

Mr. Cameron was born Nov. 22, 1953, in Hazel Green, Wis., to Donald, an oil driller, and Camilla, a homemaker. They settled in Mount Sterling, Ill., Julie, his wife of 36 years, said. He was the fifth of eight children.

Mr. Cameron graduated from Western Illinois University in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and earned his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1979. He moved to Philadelphia to work briefly in private practice, but his heart was in public service.

“The reason he went to the DA’s Office was he wanted to be in the courtroom," Julie Cameron said. “He never went back to a law firm. He loved doing what he was doing — going to court and helping victims.”

He began at the District Attorney’s Office in July 1981 and served more than 39 years, primarily in the Homicide Unit. His last assignment was in the Insurance Fraud Unit. He was looking forward to retiring next July, his wife said.

Lynne Abraham, who served as district attorney for 18 years until January 2010, remembered Mr. Cameron as “just a magnificent guy, so dedicated. He was so invested in the victims and the families of murder victims. He put his heart and soul in every case he tried."

Kristin Grandzol, whose husband, Gerard, was fatally shot in September 2017 in front of their 2-year-old daughter in Spring Garden, also remembered his kindness: “From the first time I met Ed Cameron he had compassion, knowledge, and dedication to my family, which put my mind at ease. … He attended my husband Gerry’s funeral before he and I had ever met.”

Mr. Cameron married the former Julie Lundberg in September 1984. They adopted two children — their son, Mac, now 29, in a domestic adoption, and their daughter, Camilla, now 24, from China.

Besides his wife and children, he is survived by two brothers and two sisters.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, a memorial service and Funeral Mass will be scheduled for the future. Family members invite donations in Mr. Cameron’s name to the Glioblastoma Foundation, or P.O. Box 62066 Durham, NC 27715.