Wednesday, October 9, 2013
A suspect has been arrested in connection to the double homicide of a mother and daughter who were found dead Oct. 1 in their Sangaree home.
Jacob Theopholis Philip, 22, a student at the U.S. Navy Nuclear Power Training Command in Goose Creek, was arrested following a homicide investigation, according to a Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office.
Officers with the Virginia Beach, Va. Police Department arrested Philip at about 10:24 p.m. on Oct. 1.
Earlier that day BCSO officers arrived at 302 Kershaw Drive in Sangaree to find the bodies of 26-year-old Ashley Kaney and her 8-year-old daughter Riley Burdick.
Riley’s cause of death was asphyxiation by strangulation, according to an autopsy report released by Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury on Oct. 2.
On Oct. 1 the VBPD warrant squad received information that a murder suspect with ties to Virginia Beach may possibly be in the oceanfront area of Virginia Beach, VBPD Public Affairs Officer Tonya Borman said.
“Our oceanfront community policing squad began working with the warrant fugitive unit canvassing the oceanfront and surrounding areas,” Borman said Wednesday. “At about 10:24 p.m. one of our officers spotted the possible suspect vehicle in a parking lot.
“The individual was approached, identified and arrested without incident. It was also determined that the vehicle the suspect was driving had been stolen earlier in the evening from our town center area.
“He has been charged in Virginia Beach with the grand larceny of a stolen vehicle. He is currently being held in our correctional center without bond.”
BCSO has charged Philip with two counts of murder and he is expected to be extradited to South Carolina. Philip has confessed to killing Kaney and her daughter, according to a BCSO statement.
It was determined the deaths were the result of an isolated case of domestic violence and did not pose a threat to the community, according to a BCSO statement.
Riley was a student at Sangaree Intermediate School. She had not been at school for two days and her mother could not be reached by school employees, who requested a safety check.
BCSO deputies received no response from the residence. They located an open window and entered. That’s when they discovered the victims, according to a BCSO statement.
At least 10 deputies were on the scene into the night on Oct. 1. The street was blocked off by crime scene tape.
A neighbor of the victims, Paul Thomas, called the situation “unreal.”
“Never seen anything like it,” said Thomas, who added that he didn’t realize anything was amiss until police showed up at the house.
Thomas said the victims had lived at the residence about a year.
“Senseless acts such as this have far-reaching effects on not only the families involved but our entire community,” BCSO Sheriff Wayne DeWitt said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ms. Kaney’s family during this difficult time.”
“This is an unspeakable tragedy,” Berkeley County School District Superintendent Dr. Rodney Thompson said in a statement last week. “On behalf of the district, I offer my condolences, and our hearts and prayers are with Riley’s and Ms. Kaney’s loved ones and the entire Sangaree community.”
The school implemented a crisis response plan for students and staff, BCSD Public Information Officer Susan Haire said.
Additional school counselors and district-level support staff were on hand at the school last week, assisting the community in processing the tragedy. Counseling and grief supports will continue to be available, according to Haire.
“Today and in the coming days, school personnel and district officials will be focused on fully supporting the school community and responding to its needs,” Haire said.
Salisbury commended BCSO for putting together a team of investigators from nine agencies and thus making an arrest within hours. Those agencies are: BCSO, The U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Virginia Technical College Police Department, The Blacksburg, Va. Police Department, VBPD, the SLED Child Facility Unit, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Berkeley County Coroner’s Office and the 9th Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office.