NBC10Philadelphia.com - Claudia Rivero
A Camden neighborhood continues to mourn the loss of a 6-year-old boy. They gathered for a candlelight vigil and peace walk on Tuesday. The man who allegedly stabbed the boy to death as well as his sister made his first court appearance.
A Camden, N.J. man accused of killing a 6-year-old boy and stabbing his 12-year-old sister while in a drug-fueled rage sobbed as he was arraigned on murder and attempted murder charges Tuesday afternoon.
County prosecutors tell NBC10 that Osvaldo "Popeye" Rivera was sexually assaulting the 12-year-old when her 6-year-old brother tried to stop the attack.
"He came to her assistance while she was being assaulted," Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk said outside the courtroom Tuesday.
Police say Rivera slashed the boy's throat. His 12-year-old sister also suffered stab wounds and was taken to Cooper University Hospital in Camden in critical condition. She underwent surgery on Monday and is expected to survive.
The children were attacked around 2 a.m. Sunday inside their home on the 900 block of Ware Street.
Two other children in the home at the time of the attack were not injured.
Cops arrived to a house up the block around 2:25 a.m. Sunday to find the 12-year-old lying on the floor with blood covering her face, neck and upper body, according to a statement of probable cause supplied by prosecutors.
Per the statement of probable cause: She told an officer on the scene that she was having trouble breathing and that "Poppy did it." She then told the officer, "Poppy raped me."
Officers then went to the kids' house to find the 6-year-old bleeding from his neck. He was pronounced dead just after 3 a.m., according to authorities.
Interviews led investigators to learn that Rivera lived in the area and went by the nickname “Popeye.” Rivera was known to spend nights at an apartment on the 3200 block of River Road and police found him there about 4 p.m. Sunday hiding between a mattress and a bedroom wall, according to Faulk.
Police also found blood-stained sneakers that matched bloody footprints in the home on Ware Street. Rivera reportedly told investigators the shoes were his, according to the probable cause statement.
Faulk filed charges against Rivera around 2 a.m. Monday morning.
Rivera was visibly upset as a judge ordered the 31-year-old held on $5 million bail on the murder and attempted murder charges.
He was not charged in the sexual assault accusation Tuesday afternoon, but prosecutors say more charges could be coming.
This is the second time there appears to be a connection between "Wet" and the slaying of a child in recent weeks, according to investigators.
Chevonne Thomas is believed to have been smoking "Wet" prior to beheading her son Zahree on Aug. 22 in Camden. Thomas then killed herself.
The Camden County Prosecutor's Office says in recent years there have been several other murders in which "Wet" appeared to have played a part. This drug has a particularly catastrophic effect on people, making them incoherent, hallucinatory and, in some cases, violent. The prosecutor's office says it and the Camden Police Department are concerned about its use in the city and will take steps to curb the market for this exceedingly dangerous and destructive drug.
A homicide detective told NBC10's Katy Zachry he estimates "Wet" is involved in 60 percent of Camden's homicides.
The Camden community gathered Tuesday night for candlelight vigil and peace walk for the young victim. The group walked to the boy's home in support of his family.
"We just have to pray for them," said Reverend John Parker. "None of us can really tell them to get over it because we haven't suffered or went through what they're going through right now."