PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Police sources say a man who was found slashed, beaten and partially tied to a bed in his Rhawnhurst home was killed after he was robbed by a suspected escort. A neighbor alerted police something was wrong on the 8400 block of Algon Avenue after hearing screams or yelling around 3 a.m.
When authorities arrived, they found 59-year-old Al Chernoff had a large wound on his head, gashes on his chest, and was naked and partially tied to his bed.
For hours, friends monitored the removal of Chernoff’s cherished pets. Neighbors say the 59-year-old victim had a big heart and a special bond with his cats.
“He cared more about his animals than himself. He would have starved before his animals would have ever had to go without food,” Blake Martin from the Animal Care & Control Team said. “It’s a big hole in the cat rescue community.”
“He was a good man, he loved animals and people,” Angelo Ruffo said.
Friends like Ruffo were close to tears thinking about what police have revealed.
Detectives say Chernoff was found dead inside the bedroom of his Rhawnhurst duplex. They say he had a large wound on his head, gashes on his chest, and was naked and partially tied to his bed.
Neighbors were stunned by the news.
“It’s still shocking to me to think that something happened right here in this kind of quiet area,” Miriam Piatetsky said.
Investigators want to speak with a woman who was seen leaving the home around 3 a.m. Tuesday. Police sources say she is the likely suspect in the killing.
“I feel like I’m shaking right now just thinking about this. It’s very uncommon and very upsetting to me personally,” Piatetsky said.
For those who knew Chernoff, the loss is significant.
“Al was amazing. Anything you needed, he would do, he was known for building shelters for all the feral and stray cats in the city,” Ruffo said. “He was a good man. He was always there when you needed him.”
Chernoff was an Army veteran and an airport employee.
Several animal rescue organizations have taken in Chernoff’s 11 cats, three turtles and two frogs. Buzz Miller says Chernoff was always willing to step in and help animals who were being transported at the airport.
“When we would get animals sent to us as far as California and Arizona, Al was the one who made sure everything worked out and that they could be picked up by the foster families,” Miller said.
Miller has volunteered to pay for Chernoff’s funeral. He says it’s the least he could do for a man who was so selfless.
Police are awaiting word from the medical examiner on an exact cause of death. So far, no arrests have been made.
CBS3’s Joe Holden and Kimberly Davis contributed to this report.