On July 12, 1988, the
body of four-year-old Barbara Jean Horn was discovered. A neighbor
testified that at 5:30 P.M., her mother told her that someone had left a
television box in the front of the house. Because the trash had just
been picked-up earlier that day, the father went out to look at the box.
After looking in the
box, he yelled into the house that there was a baby in the box. His
daughter called 911. Her father shouted, again saying that the baby was
She testified that she
told the 911 operator that there was a box in front of her house with a
dead baby in it. The family waited for police to arrive and the father
stood near the box to make sure that no one disturbed it.
At approximately 5:45
or 5:50 P.M., the family flagged-down a police officer, who stayed with
the box until other officers arrived. The daughter later asked police if
she could look in the box. An officer briefly lifted the lid. She told
the jury that she saw a child's body on its side and a little head with
a green trash bag on top.
A 68-year-old manager
of a car dealership testified that on that day at approximately 5:00 or
5:30 P.M. he had stretched out in a chair and was looking from an office
window and onto Saint Vincent Street. He said that he saw a man
approximately twenty-five feet away carrying a television box. The man
held the box in such a way that the witness could see printed on the box
the words "color television, inches."
The witness identified
the box the prosecution had marked as an exhibit, describing it as the
box he saw the day the body of Barbara Jean was discovered. He explained
that he thought that the box was heavy because when the man "got on the
other side of Saint Vincent Street, he laid the box down, so as to sort
of catch your breath."
After carrying the box
down the sidewalk in front of a church on Saint Vincent Street, the man
then started to drag it by a plastic bag that was sticking out of the
testified that in 1988, he lived at in a house on St. Vincent Street and
explained that at 5:12 P.M., he was sitting on the tailgate of his
Chevrolet station wagon reading a newspaper. His wife was in the
passenger seat. They were waiting for their children to return home in
the camp van before leaving for a doctor's appointment.
The man testified that
he saw a man near the church approach his house alternately carrying a
13-inch color television box and dragging it by a plastic bag that was
inside the box. He identified the 13-inch color television box in court
as the box he saw the man with on July 12, 1988.
He testified that he
observed the man walk up his steps. He told the man not to leave the box
because the trash had already been removed and the man said that he
thought that Wednesday was trash day but the witness told him that trash
day was Tuesday and that it had been picked up already.
The witness also asked
the man what was in the box. The man said that it just contained some
old junk. When the man continued on his way, the witness turned his
attention to a newspaper delivery boy who had just arrived.
At 5:23 P.M., the
witness's children came home, and he testified that he lost track of the
man with the box. At 5:26 P.M., the family drove away from their house
to go to the doctor's appointment. As they drove west on Saint Vincent
Street, the witness saw the 13-inch color television box in front of
1409 Saint Vincent Street, but they continued to the doctor's
When they returned,
police had blocked off the street. He looked up the street and
recognized the color television box. He approached the scene and told
police that he had seen the box being carried.
He admitted that he
only saw the man's face briefly but provided police with a description
of the man as a white male between 20 and 25, about 5'8" in height, 165
pounds with sandy colored hair. He could not identify Ogrod in court and
admitted on cross-examination that on January 13, 1989, he had
identified another man as the person he saw carrying the television box.
A sergeant in the
Homicide Division of the Philadelphia Police Department. had responded
to a call at 1409 Saint Vincent Street and arrived at approximately 6:45
P.M. with other detectives who were members of the Homicide Division.
She testified that when she arrived, other officers had blocked off the
1400 block of Saint Vincent Street and uniformed police officers
protected 1409 Saint Vincent Street.
The detectives observed
the television box, opened it and saw the body of a young child in the
box. Soon after, the sergeant learned that a little girl who lived at
7245 Rutland Street, approximately a block and a half away, was missing.
She went to the Rutland
Street home of the parents of Barbara Jean, Sharon and John Fahy. She
told them that police had found a television box nearby and that the box
contained the body of a child but told the Fahys that she did not know
if the child was their daughter. The Fahys identified the body at the
office of the Medical Examiner as the body of their daughter.
The Medical Examiner
had opened the box in the presence of the sergeant, who told the jury
that when she looked inside she saw a green trash bag covering the dead
body of Barbara Jean.
She testified that
Barbara Jean was completely nude and she was in a fetal position lying
on her side. She did not observe any blood on the body, but the child's
hair was matted with blood.
She explained that she
thought that the body had been washed. Barbara Jean had bruises on her
shoulders and a large gash on her head approximately one-half inch wide,
which was not actually bleeding at the time, but there was some seepage.
The Medical Examiner
testified that the cause of death was the blows to the head consistent
with a metal rod.
The homicide sergeant
showed the jury the box and pointed out some fluid and bloodstains that
remained inside the box. After the Medical Examiner removed Barbara Jean
from the box, police preserved the box as evidence.
The sergeant told the
jury that detectives had determined that the a family had purchased the
television and apparently discarded the box. Police attempted to
identify fingerprints on the box and the bag, but were not successful.
John Fahy, the
stepfather of Barbara Jean, testified that on the afternoon of Wednesday,
July 12, 1988, Barbara Jean was at home with him, at 7245 Rutland Street.
He explained that on
the morning of July 12, Sharon Fahy, his wife and the mother of Barbara
Jean, went to work. Barbara Jean dressed herself that morning in pink
shorts and a multi-colored sleeveless shirt with pastel stripes. Mr.
Fahy fed her breakfast, played with her, and he then watched television
They went to a small
grocery market, came home and Barbara Jean had lunch. Mr. Fahy estimated
that at approximately 3:00 P.M. he started to clean the refrigerator and
Barbara Jean, who was "in and out of the house most of the day," came in
and asked if she could help. Mr. Fahy told her no and to go outside and
play, which she did. Barbara Jean went into their front yard to play.
minutes to an hour, Mr. Fahy went out to check on Barbara Jean. Although
he saw her toys in the yard, he told the jury that he did not see
Barbara Jean and she did not return when he called to her. Mr. Fahy
proceeded to talk with some neighbors and look for Barbara Jean.
At 4:55 P.M., he "started
getting really nervous" and called his wife. Mrs. Fahy told him to keep
looking and that she would come home. The sister of Mrs. Fahy came to
the house and joined Mr. Fahy in the search for Barbara Jean.
A woman who lived
across the street at 7244 Rutland Street with her husband and son who
was a five-year old playmate of Barbara Jean. The family lived in
Ogrod's house. The woman heard Mr. Fahy calling for Barbara Jean, but
she did not see the child.
At approximately 6:00
P.M., the sister of Mrs. Fahy, who had been out looking for Barbara
Jean, returned in a police vehicle. Soon after, the homicide sergeant
arrived and told the Fahys that the body of a child had been found
nearby in a television box. The aunt stated that she gave Lieutenant
Kelly a photograph of Barbara Jean and accompanied her to the police
The next morning, the
Fahys went to the Office of the Medical Examiner and identified the body
of her daughter, Barbara Jean. The aunt also told the jury that, before
the murder, she did not want Barbara Jean to play at the little boy's
house because, "it was really a mess in there and there was a lot of
people always coming and going [and that she] . . . had no idea who
exactly lived there and who didn't."
asked Ogrod to come in as an information witness and that they were
interested to know whether he knew Barbara Jean, her family, the
neighborhood and whether he had heard any rumors about the murder.
The Detectives then
proceeded to conduct the formal interview by asking a question, writing
down the question, and then writing down the answer Ogrod provided. The
first question was "Walter, did you know Barbara Jean Horn?" Ogrod
admitted that he knew Barbara Jean and that she came to the house he
shared with the other family on the day of the murder.
Ogrod told police that
he answered the door when Barbara Jean was calling on her young friend
and that Ogrod told her to talk with the boy's mother because he did not
know where the boy was. That was the last time Ogrod claimed to have
seen Barbara Jean.
Ogrod told the
Detectives that he never asked the boy's mother whether she saw Barbara
Jean and that he did not know whether Barbara Jean ever found her
because he went upstairs.
When the Detectives
asked Ogrod what part of the house the woman was in at the time Barbara
Jean came into the house, Ogrod said that she was in the dining room.
Because one of the Detectives claimed to be familiar with the "straight-through"
layout of the row house, he asked Ogrod, "wasn't it true that you should
have been able to see directly into the dining room and see if she were
Ogrod responded that
perhaps she was in the kitchen, which was not visible from the front
door. The Detectives then said: "you are not telling us the truth, are
you, Walter?" At this point, Ogrod put his head in his hands and started
to cry and the Detectives took a break to allow him to compose himself.
At trial, a detective
explained that when he said crying he did not "mean a tear ran down his
cheek." He meant that Ogrod "started crying hard and convulsively." The
detective arranged for Ogrod to get a cup of coffee and go to the
bathroom and, after a break, they brought him back to the interview room.
When Ogrod returned, he
began talking before the Detectives started to question him. He
explained that he experienced abuse as a child and that he went to live
with his father when he was ten or eleven. Then, he said that he was
going to tell the Detectives something that he never told anyone
including his psychiatrist.
At this point, the
Detectives told Ogrod that before he went any further, they were going
to read him his rights. After being read his rights, Ogrod said he did
not want an attorney and one of the Detectives then said, "Walter, you
indicated you want to give us a statement at this time. Remember, you
can stop whenever you want to. Please go on in your own words and tell
us what you would like to say."
Ogrod gave Detectives a
detailed account of how he killed Barbara Jean. He told the Detectives
that Barbara Jean came to his door looking for the 5-year-old boy who
was not at home, and Ogrod enticed Barbara Jean into the basement asking
her if she wanted to play doctor.
Ogrod proceeded to take
off her clothing and started rubbing his penis against her leg. When he
tried to push her face into his penis, Barbara Jean started to scream.
Ogrod admitted that he held her down and hit her repeatedly with a pipe;
he explained that "it might have been my small pull down bar to my
weight set." She did not move again after that. She was bleeding and
Ogrod told Detectives that he grabbed a cloth and placed her in the tub
holding her head under water.
Ogrod then described
how he disposed of the body of Barbara Jean by placing her in a plastic
bag, locating an empty box nearby, placing the body in the box, and
carrying the box some distance before deciding to leave it near some
The Detectives showed
Ogrod photographs of the box, first closed -- Ogrod identified the box
as the one that he had placed the child in; and then open -- Ogrod
confirmed that Barbara Jean was in the box.
When Ogrod completed
his statement, the Detectives left the room and returned with a few
other questions. Ogrod then confirmed that the statement was the whole
truth. Detectives gave the entire statement to Ogrod to read, which he
did. Detectives asked, "Is there anything you would like to add to or
change now that you have read these 16 pages?" Ogrod responded by saying,
"I am sorry." Ogrod then signed the statement.
October 1996, Walter Ogrod was sentenced to die for sexually assaulting
and bludgeoning to death four-year-old Barbara Jean Horn, a neighbor.
Ogrod was formally sentenced on November 8, 1996.
Ogrod, 39, was
convicted in 1996 of murder and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse
in the death of 4-year-old Barbara Jean Horn. Ogrod killed Barbara Jean
on July 12, 1988, by luring her into the basement of his home in Castor
The little girl, who
lived across the street, thought she was going inside to get candy.
Instead, Ogrod tried to sexually assault her. When she screamed, he hit
her over the head with an iron bar from a weight-lifting set. Ogrod
placed Barbara Jean’s lifeless body in a plastic bag, stuffed it into a
cardboard television box and carried the box around the corner to be
taken out with the trash.
However, Barbara Jean’s
nude and battered body was discovered by a resident of the block who
noticed that the box had been placed on the curb after trash had already
been collected. The case remained unsolved for four years.
Police arrested Ogrod
in 1992, after re-interviewing him and other neighbors. The suspect
confessed to police and later to a jailhouse snitch, but he later
claimed that homicide detectives coerced a statement out of him and
contended that inmate Jason Banachowski made up his story.
Ogrod went to trial in
1993 and was about to be found not guilty when a juror, Alfred Szewczak,
changed his mind at the last second. A mistrial was granted. Three years
later, Ogrod went on trial again. This time, a jury convicted him in
less than two hours.
UPDATE: A judge
stayed the August 2005 execution of a man convicted of sexually
assaulting and killing a 4-year-old girl in Philadelphia in 1988.
Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge David Savitt on 6/9 gave Walter J. Ogrod
more time to pursue post-conviction appeals.
Death sentence upheld for killer of 4-year-old
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court last week upheld the
conviction and death sentence of Walter Ogrod, the man who killed a 4-year-old
Castor Gardens girl in 1988.
Ogrod, 38, was convicted in 1996 of murder and
involuntary deviate sexual intercourse in the death of Barbara Jean Horn.
The convicted killer argued in his appeal that, among
other things, his trial lawyer, Mark S. Greenberg, was ineffective.
Lorie Dakessian handled the appeal for the district
Arguments were made in the case in May 2002, and a
decision was reached on Dec. 30, 2003.
“We are gratified by the court’s decision to uphold
the conviction and death penalty,” said District Attorney Lynne Abraham.
“The murder of four-year-old Barbara Jean Horn was especially brutal,
and justice was done in this case.”
On July 12, 1988, Ogrod lured Barbara Jean into the
basement of his home at 7244 Rutland St. by offering her chocolates. The
little girl lived across the street.
Ogrod tried to sexually assault Barbara Jean and,
when she screamed, hit her over the head with an iron bar from a weight-lifting
Ogrod placed Barbara Jean’s lifeless body in a
plastic bag and stuffed it into a cardboard television box, which he
carried around the block to be taken out with the trash on the 1400
block of St. Vincent St.
Instead, Barbara Jean’s nude and battered body was
discovered by a resident of the block who was curious about the contents
of the box because it had been placed on the curb after trash had
already been collected.
Police were baffled for four years.
An arrest wasn’t made in the case until 1992, when
police re-interviewed Ogrod and other neighbors.
Ogrod confessed to police and later to a jailhouse
snitch, but his attorney said detectives coerced a statement out of his
client and said inmate Jason Banachowski made up his story.
At his 1993 trial, Ogrod was almost found not guilty,
but a juror — Alfred Szewczak — changed his mind at the last second.
Because there were only 11 votes for an acquittal, a mistrial was
In October 1996, a jury convicted Ogrod after less
than two hours of deliberations and sentenced him to die.
Szewczak, reached on Monday, was happy with the
outcome of the 1996 trial and the appeal.
“I’m glad they found him guilty,” said Szewczak, a
retired fireman who lives in Fishtown. “I believed with all my heart he
State Supreme Court denies Ogrod’s request for
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court last week denied a
request by convicted murderer Walter Ogrod to be resentenced.
Ogrod, 39, was convicted in 1996 of murder and
involuntary deviate sexual intercourse in the death of 4-year-old
Barbara Jean Horn. He was sentenced to die.
In the appeal, Ogrod’s attorneys argued that they
should get to reargue his sentence. They cited a 2001 law that instructs
jurors not to ignore a defendant’s clean criminal history record when
deliberating a death penalty case.
The justices hearing the appeal split, 3-3. Ogrod,
who had no criminal record before the murder, needed a majority opinion
to win the case.
Three justices argued that new court procedures
should apply to pending appeals, such as Ogrod’s. The other three
Last week’s court defeat was the second for Ogrod in
a four-month period. On Dec. 30, 2003, the state Supreme Court upheld
his conviction. He had argued that his trial lawyer, Mark S. Greenberg,
Ogrod killed Barbara Jean on July 12, 1988, by luring
her into the basement of his home at 7244 Rutland St. in Castor Gardens.
The little girl, who lived across the street, thought she was going
inside to get candy.
Instead, Ogrod tried to sexually assault her. When
she screamed, he hit her over the head with an iron bar from a weight-lifting
Ogrod placed Barbara Jean’s lifeless body in a
plastic bag, stuffed it into a cardboard television box and carried the
box around the corner to be taken out with the trash on the 1400 block
of St. Vincent St.
However, Barbara Jean’s nude and battered body was
discovered by a resident of the block who noticed that the box had been
placed on the curb after trash had already been collected.
The case remained unsolved for four years.
Police arrested Ogrod in 1992, after re-interviewing
him and other neighbors.
The suspect confessed to police and later to a
jailhouse snitch, but he later claimed that homicide detectives coerced
a statement out of him and contended that inmate Jason Banachowski made
up his story.
Ogrod went to trial in 1993 and was about to be found
not guilty when a juror, Alfred Szewczak, changed his mind at the last
second. A mistrial was granted.
Three years later, Ogrod went on trial again. This
time, a jury convicted him in less than two hours.