Police investigate Parkhurst burning body
Around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 24 Bethlehem police investigated what they thought might be a burning mannequin at the Parkhurst Apartments complex in Bethlehem. What they discovered was actually determined to be a male human being, later identified as Tyrell Michael Holmes, age 18.
Details of the homicide were released at a news conference conducted by District Attorney John Morganelli Wednesday afternoon. This was also attended by Bethlehem Police Chief Mark DiLuzio, Coroner Zach Lysek, Assistant DA Patricia Mulqueen (Violent Crimes Unit) and Police Captain Anthony Leardi.
According to Lysek, Holmes died from a combination of smoke inhalation, thermal injuries and multiple stab wounds. Lysek has ruled the death a homicide. Holmes’ family has been notified.
Morganelli said Holmes was set afire while he was still alive, as determined by the presence of smoke in his lungs. He believes Holmes was in “extreme pain and conscious” at the time of his death. He decreed this was a first degrees murder, due to the combination of stabbing and the use of accelerants. He added this may be a death penalty case because “torture is an aggravating circumstance.”
Thanks to the Allentown Police Department, which supplied the services of a K-9 dog trained in the detection of fire accelerants, police believe they were used in the area on nearby grass, but further testing is needed.
“It is a very violent homicide,” said Police Chief DiLuzio. He asked anyone with information to call police at 610-865-7187. He even suggested that tipsters call 911.
Investigators know that Holmes is from the Bethlehem area, but was not a resident of the apartment complex.
“We do not believe it is a random act,” said Morganelli. “This is a more personal type of crime,” he said, noting that stabbing tends to be personal. “This is a very egregious crime.”
Morganelli believes it is likely that the murder took place at or near the apartment complex.
Police declined to answer questions about whether this homicide is drug or gang-related. He said they are looking at a “circle of individuals who had contact with the victim,” but declined to say whether they are suspects.
“I’m hopeful and confident that this is a case that’s solvable,” he concluded.
This is the first homicide in Bethlehem this year.