A man police yesterday labeled a "career criminal" has been arrested and charged with murdering a 60-year-old Upper Darby man last month and raping the man's wife.
Authorities called the hammer-and-chisel attack particularly brutal and said Jermaine Burgess, 37, also was being questioned in connection with two other killings.
Burgess is accused of breaking into Hoa Pham's Copley Road house the night of Nov. 10, choosing it because the lights were off, Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said.
When Burgess discovered the couple in their second-floor bedroom, Chitwood said, he forced them downstairs, then tied Pham and his wife up and beat them with a hammer and a chisel. When the intruder demanded cash, Pham's wife gave him $105, but he told her that was not enough, according to court documents.
Burgess threw Pham's wife to the floor, then sexually assaulted her, court records say. She managed to escape to a nearby relative's house as Burgess again attacked her husband, according to court records.
When authorities arrived, Pham was unresponsive and bleeding, his wrists still bound.
Pham was a decorated veteran of the South Vietnamese army who fought alongside American soldiers and spent seven years in a North Vietnamese reeducation camp with one of his sons. He was pronounced dead at the scene, and his wife was taken to a hospital for treatment of stab wounds and fractures and bruising around her face, hands, arms and head.
She is out of the hospital and living with one of her adult children.
The couple had six children and arrived in the United States 17 years ago.
Pham was a subassembly technician for Alloy Surfaces, a subcontractor for the Defense Department in Chester Township, and was active in St. Alice Roman Catholic Church across the street from his home.
Late Friday, authorities arrested Burgess, who Chitwood said had a criminal record dating to the late 1980s. Upper Darby police said they had tracked him down using DNA evidence.
Burgess was in jail in Philadelphia at the time of his arrest. Officials said he was accused of a violent carjacking last week and was being questioned in connection with two other killings. including the September killing of Jane Morgan, 84, of Upper Darby.
Burgess, who has lived in Upper Darby and Philadelphia, has the words Lawless Hoodlum tattooed on one of his arms, authorities said.
Upper Darby officials alerted Pham's family to the arrest yesterday.
"They're very, very relieved that he's off the street," Chitwood said.
Appearing at a preliminary arraignment before Magisterial District Judge John Capuzzi yesterday, Burgess wore an orange jumpsuit and stood with his head down, telling Capuzzi in a low voice that he understood the charges.
Capuzzi refused to grant Burgess bail and ordered him sent back to jail.
Burgess' next appearance in Delaware County District Court in Upper Darby is scheduled for Dec. 29.
If convicted, he faces life in prison or the death penalty.