A Camden, N.J. man was charged with murder for allegedly slashing the throat of a 6-year-old Camden boy. Police say he told investigators he was smoking a combination of marijuana and PCP, known as "Wet" just before the killing.
Osvaldo "Popeye" Rivera, 31, was arrested Sunday afternoon and charged with murder and attempted murder.
Police say Rivera was trying to sexually assault the boy's 12-year-sister and the little boy tried to come to her defense. Investigators say Rivera slashed the throats of both children. The attack happened inside the home of the victims, in the 900 block of Ware Street early Sunday morning. The children were being taken care of by their 14-year-old sister because their father lives out of town and their mother was in the hospital recovering from surgery.
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The 12-year-old girl is in critical condition at Cooper Hospital in Camden. She underwent surgery on Monday and is expected to survive. Two other children in the home at the time of the attack were not injured.
According to investigators, the 12-year-old ran from the home after the attack and went to a neighbor's home for help. She identified her attacker as what sounded like "Poppy."
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 Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk.
Police also found blood-stained sneakers that matched bloody footprints in the home on Ware Street. Faulk filed charges against Rivera around 2 a.m. Monday morning.
“Several citizens came forward and showed the courage to provide information, which helped lead to the initial apprehension,” said Camden County Prosecutor’s Office Lt. Frank Falco, who oversees the investigators in the office’s homicide unit.
“Also deserving of credit are homicide detectives from our office and Camden who worked around the clock and Camden’s SWAT team, which arrested the individual at the residence on 32nd Street and River Avenue,” said Falco.
Investigators from the prosecutor's office said during an interview, Rivera stated he had smoked "Wet" prior to the killing.
Rivera is scheduled to be in court Tuesday afternoon. Neighbors also plan to hold a candlelight vigil for the little boy on Tuesday night.
The Camden community has been raising money to help the little boy's mother pay for his funeral.
"She's trying to be strong," said Wanda Padilla. "It's a pain that no one would ever want to go through. But she's trying her best to be strong."
This is the second time recently that there appears to be a connection between "Wet" and the slaying of a child, 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 be taking steps to curb the market for this exceedingly dangerous and destructive drug.
A homicide detective told NBC10's Katy Zachry that he estimates "Wet" is involved in 60 percent of Camden's homicides.