Vigil to honor City Hall staffer killed in murder-suicide

A candlelight vigil is planned Thursday afternoon in the Philadelphia City Hall courtyard for a beloved staff member at City Council whose life was lost in a tragic murder-suicide last week. Linda Rios, known as “Jeannie,” 37, was murdered on Aug. 17 by her estranged spouse during an argument, who then shot himself.

Condolences have poured in mingled with sorrow and shock from friends and colleagues who remembered Linda Rios as a kind, dedicated and beloved employee in city government, who began work in City Hall as an intern and stayed there for two decades. At the time of her death, she was working as City Council Human Resources Director.

City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell will lead a prayer during the vigil, scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. on Aug. 23 in the City Hall courtyard. Staff from Women Against Abuse, a city-funded social program that offers support to women victimized by domestic violence, will be on-hand offering resources for those affected by “intimate partner violence,” the city said.

A life cut short: Linda Rios killed in murder-suicide

Linda Rios and her estranged husband Haywood Neuby

The death of Linda Rios death shocked members of city government who knew her well. Her estranged husband, Haywood Neuby, 43, is believed to have killed her before shooting himself in the head with a handgun.

Neuby was not living at Rios’ home on the 4000 block of Meridian Street in Holmesburg at the time, and didn’t have a key to the house.

But a babysitter who arrived on the morning of Aug. 17 to babysit for Rios and Neuby’s twin 4-year-old daughters said he had entered the home, purportedly to see Rios, and instead entered into an argument. The babysitter heard gunshots and fled the house with the children to a neighbor’s home, where she called police.

Authorities found Rios dead in a bedroom upstairs, shot three times, with Neuby found dead on the first floor from a gunshot wound to the head, still holding a loaded handgun.

Many have spoken out about domestic violence in the days since Rios’ death.

“If Linda Rios-Neuby, a woman who worked with 17 of the most powerful people in Philadelphia and the mayor, suffered in silence and couldn’t ask for help, where does that leave all the others?” asked Patty-Pat Kozlowski, a friend of Rios’ and former City Hall staffer who is running for state representative of the 177th district, in an op-ed published in the Inquirer.

Linda Rios funeral services

“Words cannot describe the heartbreak I feel today. Linda Rios was more than a dedicated public servant; she was a beloved colleague and friend to so many in City Council, she was a loving mother to two little girls, she was a counselor in whom everyone could confide. I am so sad and angry that she died this way,” City Council President Darrell Clarke said in a statement on Friday.

“I will have more to say in the future about the role of guns in this tragedy, and the scourge of domestic violence, but for now I join my colleagues and all City Council staff in mourning this tremendous loss. It will take some time, but I’m going to try to remember Linda at her happiest  her beautiful smile and infectious joy as she carried those beautiful twins four years ago, never slowing her pace at work until nature forced her to do so.”

Funeral services are scheduled to a Friday morning memorial service at the John F. Givnish Funeral Home to which family, friends, and members of Philadelphia City Council are invited. Burial will be held afterward at Forest Hills Cemetery.

Anyone suffering from domestic violence, if in immediate danger, is urged to call 911, or can make a call to the Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-866-723-3014, which is available 24/7 and operated by Women Against Abuse, Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Lutheran Settlement House, and Women in Transition. 

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