By CBS3 Staff


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A 17-year-old boy is being questioned by Philadelphia homicide detectives as a person of interest in the murder of his own foster mother. Renee Gilyard, the 64-year-old mother of a Philadelphia police officer, was found stabbed to death in a bathtub inside her East Germantown home Wednesday.

The teen and three others were taken into custody Wednesday morning following a police pursuit and crash of the victim’s vehicle.

Police were called to Gilyard’s home on the 300 block of Mechanic Street, shortly before 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, for reports of a woman screaming.

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When officers arrived, they found the victim’s family members at the scene checking on her well-being after she had not been heard from all day.

“Upon entering the home, family members noticed the house appeared empty but the downstairs bathroom was locked. After gaining entry into the bathroom, they observed the victim covered in blood, partially inside the bathtub. There were no signs of forced entry,” Philadelphia Police Capt. Jason Smith said.

Police say Gilyard had stab wounds to her neck and defensive wounds to her hands. Officers found her covered in blood.

Police say her 2014 Nissan Rogue SUV and her foster child were missing at the time but were later located on the 4300 block of Sansom Street in West Philadelphia, around 10:30 a.m., following a police chase and crash.

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Gilyard’s foster son and three other teens — one boy and two girls — were taken into custody. They are not considered suspects in the victim’s murder at this time and no charges have been filed.

The teens were also taken to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia by police.

Police say Gilyard has been fostering the teen for three days.

Gilyard put up a fight before she was killed and neighbors told CBS3 there’s no doubt she did.

“You didn’t have to hurt her. Knowing her, she might have been aggressive, but you knew you were wrong,” neighbor Madline Harris said. “You didn’t have to kill her. Even if you pushed her out the way, or tie her hands up and left her there, to kill her is so wrong. ”

“It doesn’t make any sense. It’s heartbreaking. It’s confusing,” neighbor Fatima Ford said. “We just got into 2020. For this to even occur, it’s just crazy.”

Gilyard’s son, who is a Philadelphia police officer, once served in former Mayor Michael Nutter’s security detail.

Gilyard’s family members have been filing in and out of her East Germantown home, consoling one another. They are in shock because her 17-year-old foster child is a person of interest.

Police also say the 17-year-old foster son may also be connected to two missing people — 20-year-old Jimmy Mao and 16-year-old Jacob Merritt-Richburg.

Jimmy Mao, left, and Jacob Merritt-Richburg. (credit: Philadelphia Police Department)

Police say the teen was interviewed after it was learned he might’ve been one of the last people to see Mao before he was reported missing on Jan. 2. Police say the teen did not shed any information on Mao’s whereabouts. Police believe Mao may have been kidnapped after family members received a ransom demand.

One of Mao’s acquaintances, 16-year-old Jacob of the 1800 block of Vineyard Street, was reported missing by family on Jan. 11 after he was last seen on Jan. 6. Police believe Jacob may be in possession of Mao’s property, but they did not elaborate.

No motive has been given in Gilyard’s stabbing death.

CBS3’s Matt Petrillo contributed to this report.

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