A tiny stretch of Media Street in Overbrook seemed peaceful yesterday afternoon. Neighbors walking back and forth from the corner store greeted one another as school buses dropped children off to waiting parents. “It’s definitely a close neighborhood,” said 12-year resident Tracy Nelson.
“Everybody knows everyone around here.”
“There’s a police station right around the corner — they come through here all the time,” his neighbor, Ronald Curmety, said, gesturing to a passing squad car.
But the noontime calm is deceptive. Within a couple blocks are last known addresses for three of Philadelphia’s most wanted violent fugitives. There are 29 more within a five-mile radius and at least one woman familiar with the neighborhood isn’t comfortable with its vibe.
“It’s not a good place,” said former resident Jules Edwards as she waited at the corner for her grandson’s school bus. One of her daughters still lives on the block. “We were walking up the street just the other day after getting off of the bus and two men were fighting each other. All we could do was yell, ‘Call 911!’”
“It’s getting worse — just look at the streets,” she said as she motioned to potholes in the ragged asphalt. “But everywhere is bad.”
According to the Philadelphia Police Department’s list of the city’s 100 most wanted fugitives, the majority of the criminals listed — wanted for crimes including aggravated assault, robbery, rape and murder — are concentrated in West, Southwest and North Philadelphia.
Police released the felons’ names and photos on YouTube Tuesday, with plans to air the slideshow on Channel 64. Suspects highlighted were chosen based on the nature of each criminal’s crime plus the lack of leads detectives have uncovered concerning their whereabouts, according to Evers. “They’re definitely individuals we’re having a hard time finding,” he said.
The decision to publicize the fugitives’ information online and on television was originally announced by Mayor Michael Nutter in January as part of a citywide crime-reduction plan. Measuring the success of the initiative has not been easy; it has become an additional layer of investigative police work.
“We’re trying to keep track of how many people we take into custody are arrested based on tips, whether they were pulled over for a traffic violation or an officer recognized them as wanted, whether it was due to police work. We investigate all of this after an individual gets arrested,” he said.