Couple Strangled Over $120 and Gold Chain

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Philadelphia couple was smothered with pillows and strangled by two men they'd hired to clean up around the yard.

    Rufus Perry, 79, and his wife, Gladys, hired a friend's grandson, Terry Ballard, to help clean up the yard of their Strawberry Mansion home last week.

    Mystery Surrounds Couple's Death

    [PHI] Mystery Surrounds Couple's Death
    Police are investigating the mysterious death of a couple in the Strawberry Mansion section of the city. NBC10's Monique Braxton reports the latest.

    Ballard, 26, and a friend, Justin Smith, 19, came to the home Wednesday, intending all along to rob the Perrys, according to Captain James Clark, commanding officer of homicide. 

    One of the men found $120 tucked inside an envelope in the kitchen. Gladys was strangled when she confronted the men, Clark said. Her husband was killed trying to save his wife.

    The couple's daughter, 39-year-old Keya Perry, found their lifeless bodies July 17 around 1 a.m.

    Their deaths were a mystery initially because the victims, who are the aunt and uncle of Philadelphia Streets Department Deputy Commissioner Donald Carlton, did not have any visible wounds or marks on their bodies when they were found.

    Clark says the men tried to suffocate the couple with pillows and then strangled them.

    When homicide detectives went back and canvassed the neighborhood, they discovered that Ballard and Smith had been seen in the Perry's backyard the day of the murder. They found them about a block away.

    "They both admitted to their involvement in this brutal and senseless double murder," Clark said.

    Ballard and Smith are charged with two counts of murder, robbery and related offenses.