2 Missing People Linked to Teen Tied to Deadly Stabbing

A 17-year-old is connected to three investigations including the stabbing death of his foster mother

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What to Know

  • Police believe two missing people are linked to a 17-year-old person of interest in an East Germantown slaying.
  • The 17-year-old was found in West Philadelphia inside a car that had been taken from the scene of the murder.
  • Jimmy Mao, 20, and Jacob Merritt-Richburg, 16, remain missing.

UPDATE: Police discovered a dead body while searching for Mao. New details here.

Police believe a 17-year-old, considered a person of interest in the stabbing death of a 64-year-old East Germantown woman, may be connected to the disappearance of two people from Philadelphia.

Jimmy Mao, 20, was last seen Dec. 29 of last year and reported missing from the 5800 block of Angora Terrace four days later. On Jan. 7, Mao’s bother started receiving text messages demanding ransom payments, Philadelphia Police Special Victims Unit Capt. Mark Burgmann said.

As police investigated, they interviewed the 17-year-old, an acquaintance of Mao’s, and determined he was likely the last person to have seen him.

Detectives also wanted to interview another acquaintance of Mao's, 16-year-old Jacob Merritt-Richburg, from the 1800 block of Vineyard Street. Before that happened, Merritt-Richburg was reported missing by his family on Jan. 11, Burgmann said.

Burgmann said Merrit-Richburg was in possession of something that belonged to Mao but would not elaborate on what that was.

Philadelphia Police
Jimmy Mao, 20, and Jacob Merritt-Richburg, 16

The 17-year-old, meanwhile, had been considered a missing and endangered person after police could not find him in the East Germantown home where his foster mother was stabbed to death Wednesday morning.

Renee Gilyard, the mother of a Philadelphia police officer, was found covered in blood with two stab wounds to the neck and defensive wounds, Homicide Capt. Jason Smith said. She had been fostering the 17-year-old for three days, Smith said.

Family members found her lifeless body shortly before 1:30 a.m. slumped over a bathtub in the home along the 300 block of Mechanic Street, Smith said. They had been trying to contact her the day prior but could not reach her, which prompted them to check her house.

Investigators did not find any signs of a break-in but did notice the 17-year-old and the victim’s black Nissan Rogue were not at the house, Smith said.

Police took the teen into custody after he crashed the SUV Wednesday morning while fleeing from police in West Philadelphia, Smith said. Three additional teens — a boy and two girls ranging in age from 14 to 17 years old — were in the vehicle.

A black SUV crashed into the back of a truck
Philadelphia police detained four people who were driving in this black Nissan SUV on Wednesday, January 15, 2020. The car is owned by a woman who was stabbed inside her East Germantown home, police said.

Smith added that investigators “have reason to believe” that the teen is “possibly connected” to Mao and Merrit-Richburg.

All four people in the car were taken into Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for treatment of injuries sustained in the crash and are being questioned by detectives, Smith said.

The 17-year-old is considered a person of interest in the East Germantown slaying but has not been named yet a suspect or charged with a crime, the captain added.

The 17-year-old has not been charged with a crime so NBC10 is withholding his name.

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