NORTH PHILADELPHIA. Teenager Donte Johnson is accused of beating, sexually assaulting and strangling Sabina Rose O’Donnell on June 2 in Northern Liberties as she returned home after a night out with friends.
Police allege that Johnson, of the 900 block of North 11th Street, initially planned to steal O’Donnell’s bicycle, but the confrontation grew violent in seconds.
“He [saw] her on this bike and liked the bike and targeted the bike and the act became more violent and progressed into sexual assault and then murder,” said Lt. Frank Vanore of Police Public Affairs. “It’s really sad.”
The two neighborhoods expressed different reactions yesterday after police announced the arrest and charges in the brutal death. Neighbors at the Richard Allen homes in North Philadelphia described Johnson as a “troublemaker,” who was often involved in fights.
“I knew he had a prior bench warrant. He was a big troublemaker,” said a woman who declined to give her name. “He was bringing a gang of guys down here to beat up my little cousin.”
Another woman said Johnson had once played with her children, that he was a “regular kid,” but that she had known him to be in trouble before. But, she added, “he didn’t seem like that kind to kill somebody.”
Matthew Ruben, president of the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association, expressed relief at news of the arrest.
“It’s a tremendous relief that this person is in custody, and [allegedly] confessed and has been charged,” he said.