TWO BOYS — one just 7 years old and the other believed to be only 9 — are the remaining suspects in the brutal beating of a 51-year-old Vietnamese woman in her Juniata Park apartment, the police detective on the case said Wednesday.
But because both are under 10 and this is not a murder case, they cannot be criminally prosecuted under Pennsylvania law.
A 10-year-old boy, whom police called the "ringleader," was arrested Monday in the beating of Minh Tran after being turned in by his mother. He faces trial on aggravated-assault and related offenses in Family Court on Aug. 22, said Tasha Jamerson, spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office.
Detective Martin Sheeron said Wednesday that he wanted to investigate further to make sure the 9-year-old was involved. If that's the case and he and the 7-year-old, who both live near the victim, can't be prosecuted, Sheeron said he would sit down with their parents "to find out what's going on."
He said he would refer them to the Department of Human Services for possible supervision.
Frank Cervone, executive director of the Support Center for Child Advocates, said these kids' behaviors are warning signs.
"There's a red flag that there are neglect issues and these kids are acting out in this way," he said.
On Monday afternoon, Tran was sleeping in her studio apartment on Luzerne Street near L. She was awakened when three boys barged in and began beating her with a rope, sticks, a potted plant and a plunger, she said. They stole $20 from her.