1989 - January
Find A Grave Memorial
has had the
remains of children show up and no one knew who they were or where they
came from. Some of those children are lucky enough to have been a
feature in the news, over the years. Media attention would surround
and pressure would be on for the identity of the child to be
One child would not be so lucky.
May 27, 1994,
the decomposed, skeletal remains of a child were found in a duffel bag
in an abandoned lot in Old City, Pennsylvania. The body of this child
been wrapped in a bed sheet and a towel and placed in the bag under the
Ben Franklin Bridge. An autopsy revealed that the child had been beaten
to death listing blunt force trauma to the head and torso as the cause
of death. A lack of media attention, even in the area where the child
found, would cause this case to be almost totally unknown, even by
who lived in Philadelphia.
many years the body of this child lay in the morgue, unclaimed and
In February of 2001, a very generous woman, who lived in North
arranged for this little Angel to have a funeral. The unknown child
finally be laid to rest.
remains had been
cremated and were set to sit in a box in the basement of the morgue.
they would sit, unclaimed among many others.
had spent seven
long years trying to get the morgue to allow release of the body of
child so he could have a proper burial. Mary wanted to be sure that
child was loved in death, since he obviously had not been in life.
little fella has no name. At least his little body
at peace, at rest"
the years Mary
had tried and failed many times to get the ashes of this child buried.
Many other people had called once or twice to asked, none of them
back after being told it wasn't possible. Mary was the exception to
She couldn't understand how anyone could discard a child that way, as
they were trash:
that. A little child really didn't deserve that"
she was finally
given permission to bury the child, Mary sat down with Sister Cecile
and began the planning of the service:
so into ourselves and our own little world these days," Sister Cecile
"I know Mary was giving this little boy love for all these years is
to do this. You were chosen"
Reiley to Mary Peck
remains of the
child, which had been cremated, were buried in Juniata Park on Ash
The head- stead read "God bless this grave of this unknown boy".
an Inquirer Columnist, drove Mary to the morgue where the staff was in
awe over her determination to make sure that this child was buried
and that the world would know that at least someone cared about him, if
not his parents. Some would come to call Mary Peck the REAL
of this child.
didn't know the child also donated to provide him with what he needed.
A spot for his burial was donated by the Archdiocese in the New
Cemetery, a bagpiper played the music and a woman donated a box which
had decorated with lace and a cross to put the child's ashes in.
John McNamee had chosen a name for the boy, Tarsicius, the patron saint
of alter boys. This name was chosen since Tarsicius had also been
to death. Mary did not want praise for what she had done:
do it, somebody else would - wouldn't they"
was happy to
see that another stranger had donated a grave marker for the child.
had battled Cancer not to long before the child had been buried and the
Cancer was back. Mary would lose her battle with Cancer and in April of
2003, she died.
by to visit the grave of this unknown child, she found that someone
was there as well. The man who owned Travis Memorial, Jim Travis was
As she brushed snow off of the grave marker she was thinking that Mary
would have loved to see the REAL name of the child, on the
Jim was thinking along the same line:
the marker when we learn the boy's name. Whatever it takes, I'll do it"
Peck was buried
with a simple graveside service. Mary had wanted it that way, no fuss
all and nothing fancy:
she wanted. How do you not honor the person you love"
- Mary's son
in lot #74, Mary rests in peace next to her husband, Harry who is a
Veteran and passed away in 1984. On the gravestone, Harry's name is
due to her wishes, Mary's name is not listed on the stone.
sculpted an image of what the boy might look like. Still, for more than
a decade, the "boy in the bag" as the child had become known, went
January of 2005,
the case would be solved. An Uncle would return to the area where his
lived and start asking questions about where his nephew was. He was
given a straight answer and he decided to visit the web site of the
Center For Missing And Exploited Children. At the site, he would see
bust that had been made of the missing child. He noticed that the boy
a lot like his missing nephew, Jerell Willis and notified the
police who started investigating the case again.
Vincent P. Sarubbi said that authorities would begin investigating the
case, that they were waiting on DNA tests which would prove the child
related to the woman who was charged in his murder, his mother, Alicia
Robinson. Alicia had been arrested and charged with abuse of a corpse
also with hindering apprehension. Police did not immediately release
name of the child since they were waiting for positive proof of who he
Chitwood said that the "boy in the bag" was
in another jurisdiction and then dumped in Old City:
the mystery of who he is and who killed him, we know that,. It is just
dominoes falling into place"
trying to sort out the details of how the child died and how his body
to rest in the vacant lot. At that time, they knew that Alicia and a
who had not yet been name had taken a bus, carrying the duffel bag with
the remains of Jerell inside, to Old City. They had then taken his body
to the vacant lot and left him there.
March 29, 2005,
a statement was released saying that finally, the boy in the bag was
boy in a bag who was known previously only his maker is now known to
District Attorney Lynne Abraham.
child was positively
identified as Jerell Willis, a four year old who was the son of Alicia
Robinson, the woman in custody:
shame Mary Peck isn't around for the identification. Peck, who died two
for that little boy"
- Forensic Sculptor
Prosecutor, Vincent P. Sarubbi said that the child had grown up in a
that was violent and that the New Jersey Division Of Youth And Family
had been to their Camden apartment to check on complaints of abuse
Jerell. There were two other children living in the apartment when DYFS
visited, however, the allegations of abuse were not confirmed,
to Andy Williams:
we had with them was in October 1993,
that agency, said that the file on that family had been closed and that
DYFS was going to do an internal investigation of the case and how it
Quallie, a spokesman
for the Philadelphia Department Of Human Services said that Alicie had
nine other children who had not been the report of any abuse or neglect
and were living with the father of the two youngest of the nine
would later be identified as the other person who was involved in the
of Jerell. Alicia, in a statement of probable cause, told investigators
that she and Lawrence had hit Jarell many times until he became
and then went unconscious. Alicia said it was around January of 1994
a major snow storm.
neither of them tried to get any medical help for Jarell at all and
didn't contact anyone about his death. After he died, they stuffed his
body into the bag and left him under the Benjamin Franklin Bridge:
did it together. They found the first empty or vacant lot, and that's
on May 27, 1994
someone passing by the lot, saw the bag, opened it and found the
of Jerell Willis.
April 22, 2005,
Alicia Williams was in court without a lawyer. Her bail was set at
for what she did to her son. In addition to the charges she already
abusing a corpse and hindering arrest, New Jersey authors had added a
of murder to the list. The trial date was set for February of 2005.
was set so high because Judge Linda G. Baxter considered Alicia to be
great risk for flight.
the court to appoint an attorney"
who at times went by the name Jevon Willis, would be arraigned at a
date. At the time of Alicia's arraignment, Lawrence was in Riverfront
Prison where he was serving his second year of an eight year sentence
May 3, 2005, Lawrence
was in court for his arraignment. While the prosecutors stated the case
to the court, Lawrence shook his head and after speaking out loud was
by the judge to allow the Prosecutor to finish:
he's saying ain't true. I wasn't even in the house when this happened.
charged with murder"
he had use
several aliases, birth dates and different Social Security numbers and
had been on the run for seven hears due to the sexual assault charges,
Lawrence's bail was set at $750,000. by the Judge, Linda Baxter.
July of 2005 a
new ceremony was held at the grave site of the child who had previously
been known only as the boy in the bag. Absent, were an biological
of his family. The same people who were there the first time a stone
placed to mark his grave, were there for the second stone to be placed.
A priest, two nuns and the proud family of Mary Peck were all there to
honor Jerell Willis.
his birth, Jerell Willis was finally given what he deserved in death,
right to be known. Four years after his first funeral where his grave
said simply "God bless this grave of this unknown boy", a new black
monument would be put in place to mark the spot where he had been laid
to rest. Though Jarell's
him, once again, strangers would show that he was loved and cared about.
have to make up a prayer, because there's nothing in the Book for a
once again stood over Jerell Willis and asked God to look after the
who had been brought to him along a hard road of violence. After he
about the funeral, Jim Travis donated a new grave maker:
had to do
a brand-new monument. I didn't want to just squeeze in the new
should be marked in a world that is right.
know one another by name, as God does"
at the grave
site was Sister Catherine Denny who said:
comes out of evil"
Harry Peck, his wife Sonya and his sister Charlan cried. They and the
at St. Malachy had been the ones to come up with the design for the new
monument to honor Jerell Willis. Jim Travis carved the new monument out
of South African Granite. The stone reads:
- January 1994
by Mary Peck of St. Malachy
his own name came to light.
image of Jesus
holding a child under a dove was etched next to the words and the words
"Safely home" were also etched into the stone.
Alicia Robinson was in court. Prosecutors dropped the charge of murder,
against her in exchanged for her testimony against her husband,
to hindering apprehension and her sentence was to be ONLY five
in prison. I personally believe all of the people involved in
making that sentence happen should be totally embarrassed. With the
she had served, she could be free before the trial of her husband even
testimony, Alicia said that Lawrence had called her to go home and
Jerell so that he could go to a job interview. Marcia Soast, her
came home, it was evident that Jerell was in some sort of
she answered with a yes. Alicia said that Lawrence then told her that
was beaten to death by your boyfriend at the time"
with a yes. Alicia also admitted to helping lawrence put her sons body
into a bag and that they went together on the bus to Philadelphia where
they left the bag in the vacant lot under the bridge.
to helping Lawrence stuff the boy into a bag. They rode together on a
from their Camden apartment to Philadelphia, where she said he dumped
bag in a vacant lot under the bridge.
continued to say he was innocent and his trial date was set for July.
Mayer, his attorney said:
home when this happened. She was the one who called him"
Mayer said that
prosecutors had tried to get Lawrence to plead guilty and testify
Alicia, Lawrence was not willing to admit any guilt in Jerell's death,
a lot of faith in her. There is no forensic evidence in this case that
points a finger to Lawrence Robinson. They need her and they're willing
to let her off the hook on a murder"
that Alicia's story had been investigated and that detectives had
to her other children who confirmed that Alicia had never been abusive
towards them, however, Lawrence had:
was the truthful and credible one"
has ten other
children with the last one having been born while she was in jail. Most
of her children shared Lawrence as a father. They weren't married until
after the death of Jerell. The remaining children had been placed in
custody of other family members:
been a surprise to me how the mother of a young child would remain
else had committed an act of violence to her children"
that Lawrence had a violent past. Lawrence had been convicted several
ago and was sentenced to either years in prison for sexual assault.
is not scheduled to go to trial until later in the year 2009.
<>Today is June 17, 2014 and
whlie doing a search for information in Jerell's case, I found no new
Death occurred in the state of Hawaii
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