Tragedy of Errors: How Philadelphia failed murdered bodega clerk Reyna Alonso


The story of the Jan. 23 murder of Reyna Aguirre-Alonso — the story, that is, as it was told to the public — began as simply as any in a city that sees upwards of 300 murders a year.

A mere four sentences in the next day’s Philadelphia Inquirer first reported that a 33-year-old woman had been repeatedly shot at about 7:45 the previous night on the 3300 block of Mutter Street in Fairhill. There was no mention of possible suspects. Police did not immediately report a motive. The woman was transported to Temple University Hospital, where she died.

By the following morning a more complicated picture began to emerge. Alonso might have witnessed a murder that had occurred in late November, according to neighbors and unnamed police sources, right outside the Caribe Mini Market bodega where she worked. Alonso had been interviewed by police at least twice, and had been seen being picked up and dropped off outside the bodega by plainclothes detectives just a few weeks before her murder. Some residents accused the police of exposing her as a witness to the drug dealers loitered regularly on the street, and asked why Alonso’s case wasn’t treated more carefully.

[Read the full story here]


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