By Crystal Cranmore


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The homicide rate continues to soar in Philadelphia. A 50-year-old woman was fatally stabbed in the neck during a domestic dispute inside a Southwest Philadelphia home early Tuesday morning and police say they have a key witness in the murder.

The victim’s son, 27-year-old Jeffrey Burroughs, says he watched his mother get fatally stabbed.

Officials found the 50-year-old suffering from one stab wound to the neck on the 6000 block of Upland Street near South 60th Street around 2:20 a.m. She was pronounced dead on the scene.

Family members identify the victim as Rochelle Jackson. Police say she died at the hands of an ex-boyfriend. The couple was reportedly involved in an on-again, off-again relationship.

He was reportedly suffering injuries to his hands and was initially taken to Penn Presbyterian Hospital but is in police custody.

“There was also a 50-year-old male inside of the room with her involved in a physical altercation with a 27-year-old male,” Chief Inspector Scott Small said.    “Police immediately broke up that fight. They determined that the 50-year-old male was the person that stabbed the 50-year-old female that was laying in the kitchen so they immediately took that male into custody.”

Now family and friends are left wishing they could have done more to prevent the tragedy from happening.

“I can’t believe this happened on my watch,” said Shanay Reid. “She’s been with him for seven years, mental abuse, emotional abuse.”

Antonio Banks, a friend of the victim, says there have been issues between the couple.

“She tried to help everybody and what happened to her is a tragedy,” Banks said. “She didn’t deserve that. She kept calling the cops about his abuse and they really never did anything about that and now this is the tragedy of it.”

While tragic, city leaders say Jackson’s story is not unique.

“We deal with that every day, the police department deals with that every day, child welfare deals with that every day,” Azucena Ugarte said.

She is the director of the city’s Office of Domestic Abuse Strategies. According to the latest full year data available, 27 homicides in 2018 were classified as domestic violence homicides.

Similar to Jackson’s case, Ugarte says most victims are killed when they try to leave.

“They knew it and that’s one of the reasons why maybe they didn’t leave because they knew this could be very dangerous,” Ugarte said.

Police statistic indicate that there have been 17 homicides in Philadelphia just two weeks into the new year — that’s more than double the number this time last year.

So what’s the motive behind the bloodshed?

“Kind of all over, we have domestic, one dispute, at least two that we believe to be drug-related,” Acting Philadelphia Police Commissioner Christine Coulter said.

That’s why police rely on the city’s community anti-violence programs.

“It’s been a great asset to us when we have identified who is feuding,” Coulter said.

While police say this domestic homicide is essentially case closed, the search continues for several other killers throughout the city — including one who police say fatally shot a 27-year-old Khalil Ali, of Philadelphia, in the check and neck.

It happened on the 2600 block of West Cumberland Street in North Philadelphia on Monday.

These investigations add to a growing number of homicides only two weeks into the new year.

Anyone with information is urged to call the anonymous tips hotline at 215-686-TIPS. 

CBS3’s Crystal Cranmore and Howard Monroe contributed to this report.

Crystal Cranmore

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