Police make arrest in South Philadelphia double throat slashing
Police have made an arrest in a brutal double stabbing and throat slashing that rocked a quiet South Philadelphia community.
Omar Johnson, 31, of the 2600 block of South Bancroft Street, was taken into custody around 11:45 a.m. Friday after a brief struggle at Broad and Moore streets, mere blocks from the first-floor apartment on the 1300 block of Dickinson Street where the crime occurred.
Johnson will be charged with murder and related offenses for the deaths of tenant Eugene Zappacosta, 78, and his acquaintance, Janet Burgess, 50, who were stabbed multiple times and their throats slit, police said. Zappacosta’s two small Yorkies were also stabbed and bludgeoned to death.
Johnson was reportedly visiting the apartment when his previously-friendly relationship with Burgess turned sour, they had a fight that escalated to violence and Johnson snapped, allegedly pulling out a knife and stabbing her multiple times.
When Zappacosta tried to intervene, Johnson allegedly stabbed him to death as well.
Zappacosta was found in a rear bathroom and Burgess was found in the front living room. Burgess reportedly appeared to be sexually assaulted, but police said that an autopsy will need to be conducted to be sure.
Johnson allegedly beat and stabbed Zappacosta’s dogs to death because they were making noise and he did not want to alert neighbors. He also turned on the gas in an attempt to start a fire to cover up the scene. The smell of gas is what ended up causing neighbors to alert police around 10 a.m. Monday morning.
Police said they were able to identify Johnson through investigative police work and neighbor tips. Multiple neighbors said on Monday that the corner was the site of ongoing drug activity. Burgess had a criminal history of drug charges and Johnson reportedly had a lengthy rap sheet as well.