A Philadelphia Police homicide detective hid his girlfriend and helped her cover up her ex-husband's murder then lied to his colleagues about evidence in the investigation, the city's district attorney says.
Likening the case to something you might read in a trashy romance novel, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced Thursday that detective Ron Dove has been indicted by a grand jury on obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges in the death of Cesar Vera.
Vera was stabbed to death inside his North Philadelphia home on Sept. 8, 2013. Prosecutors say the murder was committed at the hands of his ex-wife, Erica Sanchez. She was Dove's lover at the time.
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A blood-soaked Sanchez, 33, came to Dove after the stabbing and he helped arrange for her to flee the city, the DA said.
"He actively shielded her, hid her, financed her flight, failed to disclose material evidence and facts to his fellow police officers," Williams said.
Prosecutors said toll and financial records and video showed Dove booked the woman a hotel room in Rochester, New York, drove her there and bought her a new cell phone. When he returned to Philadelphia, the detective cleaned Sanchez's car and asked a body shop owner to keep it hidden in his garage, Williams said.
"He said that Erica had murdered someone and that the police were actively looking for the car," Williams said. "He instructed that if police came by the shop, he should lie."
Detectives spent weeks investigating the case while their colleague knew Sanchez's role in the murder and where she was staying. Meanwhile, Williams said Dove returned to New York to go sightseeing with his lover.
"They spent the weekend at Niagara Falls touring the sites and taking pictures," he said. Once the weekend excursion was over, Dove checked Sanchez back into another hotel and returned to Philadelphia.
Over the course of the investigation, Dove did tell fellow investigators he knew Sanchez, but insisted that the stabbing was done in self-defense, according to Williams. When he did give a more detailed statement to police, he lied about his involvement in her escape, officials said.
Police eventually caught up to Sanchez on Oct. 16, 2013 and charged her in Vera's death. But Williams said all of the physical evidence from the crime was gone.
Dove has surrendered to authorities on Thursday morning and was arraigned late Thursday night before he was released on $2,500 bail. He has been fired from the police department.
"He has caused embarrassment to this city, this department and his family because of his shameful actions. Dove’s conduct is simply intolerable and inexcusable," Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said.
The grand jury is continuing to investigate the case. They have recommended additional charges be levied against Sanchez as well.
The district attorney's office is reviewing all the cases where Dove was a witness or investigator.
The family of another murder victim, Leslie Delzingaro, where Dove was the lead investigator, told NBC10 last year they believe he withheld evidence in her case. The bar where the woman was murdered was owned by Sanchez's father. Police said they are investigating the claims.