WEBSTOCK 2020-police news

For the second time in as many nights, a Berks County man was killed in his home in an apparent domestic incident.

The latest killing happened late Monday in a Hillside Avenue home in Exeter Township, where a 35-year-old man was apparently stabbed to death, Berks County detectives said Tuesday.

According to a news release from county detectives:

Just before 10:45 p.m, the county 9-1-1 center received a call from a man in the subdivision known locally as the Dunn Farm off West 47th Street behind the Exeter Commons shopping center. The caller handed the telephone to a woman who reported there had been an accident and the man had suffered a cut to his chest and wasn’t breathing.

Exeter Township police and emergency medical services responded.

They entered the home and were directed to a bathroom on the second floor where they found the man unresponsive on the floor. Medics determined he was dead.

He had a penetrating wound to the left side of his chest.

County detectives were notified, and a team of detectives responded to the home along with members of the Berks County District Attorney’s Forensic Services Unit.

The man, whose name wasn’t released, was pronounced dead at midnight by Deputy Coroner Robert Bickham.

An autopsy was scheduled to begin late Tuesday afternoon in Reading Hospital.

“At this time, we are in the very early stages of this joint investigation and as more information is developed and the investigation progresses, we will provide additional updates,” the release stated. “The Berks County district attorney’s office states there is no threat or danger to the neighborhood or community, that the investigation thus far confirms that this is an isolated incident.”

That statement was almost identical to the one issued about 24 hours earlier regarding the stabbing of a 39-year-old man in his South Heidelberg Township on Sunday night.

Shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday, Berks 9-1-1 dispatchers received a call from a frantic woman at a home on Maywood Avenue, which runs between Aspen Avenue and Beacon Road on the opposite side of Route 422 from the Green Valley subdivision.

Emergency medical services and South Heidelberg police responded to the home and found Chad Macwilliam on the dining room floor with a penetrating stab wound to his chest. Medics employed life-saving measures including CPR. The victim was taken by ambulance to Reading Hospital where he was pronounced dead in the trauma center.

On Tuesday, detectives and South Heidelberg police arrested Jillian Blimline, 38, Macwilliam’s domestic partner and mother of their 4-year-old daughter. Jillian Blimline is charged with first- and third-degree murder.

District Attorney John T. Adams said both killings were nearly identical in that they involved disputes between domestic partners and a deadly weapon was introduced.

“They’re both domestic violence-related,” Adams said.

The district attorney had feared early in the coronavirus pandemic that stress from domestic partners being cooped up together with fewer options for diversion from everyday stress would result in some serious domestic violence injuries or deaths.

But that had not materialized until recently.

“Prior to this weekend, I thought we had been spared of the violent domestics that we have seen occurring throughout the state,” he said. “However, clearly this past two days has brought to light some serious domestic violence occurring right in our backyard.”

Both recent killings involved disputes between intimate partners, with no involvement from others, Adams said.

“It’s very tragic when we see that two lives were lost,” he said. “I think that some of the situations we’re seeing are clearly exemplified by the (COVID-19) crisis that we are now living through. And I believe this crisis clearly is having an affect on people’s lives.

“People are more confined to their homes and they can’t take advantage of some of the outlets they would have taken advantage of during normal times.”

According to Safe Berks records, 69 Berks County residents were killed by domestic violence between 1999 and October 2020. Two of those victims were killed since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Melissa Gonzalez-Torres, 37, was killed on May 18 in her residence on Robeson Street, Reading. Christina Blackburn, 23, of Boyertown, was killed on April 16 in Boyertown.

Beth Garrigan, Safe Berks CEO, said pressure from the pandemic continues to increase with job losses and isolation.

“Safe Berks stands with all domestic violence victims,” said Garrigan. “The social distancing and family isolation required to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has increased the risk for victims of domestic violence. Many victims, adults and children, are trapped at home with violent abusers. Home is not a safe place for victims of domestic violence.”


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