GUNMAN'S SHOCKING CONFESSION BEFORE DEATH
Shooter Identified as son of Chester Officer
July 22, 2009 7:58:31 AM PDT
RIDLEY TOWNSHIP, Pa. - July 21, 2009 -- It's a bizarre twist to a story Action News has been investigating for 2 years. Aaron Michael was shot to death Tuesday morning, by police in Chester, Delaware County. Officers were trying to arrest him for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Andrea Arrington. She was shot to death last night outside her home in the 1600 block of Constitution Avenue in Ridley Township.
Michael was the son of a Chester Police officer, and had tried to hold police at bay outside his father's house. But he came out pointing a gun, and police shot him to death just after midnight.
Moments before he was killed, authorities say Michael confessed to a friend that he had killed two of his children, several years ago, deaths that had been ruled undetermined.
Action News talked exclusively with the mother of one of those children; as well as an interview Action News conducted with Michael 2 years ago.
"I think in my opinion he is a sick person."
Nicole Townes has always believed Aaron Michael killed their 4-month-old son, Alijah two years ago to the day. It was Michael's first time alone with his boy, several hours into the father-son day Michael was at the hospital.
"He said his tongue was protruding from the side and his color was disoriented. He called the hospital and said something is wrong with my son. They said bring him in."
Townes was immediately suspicious. 2 years earlier Michael's 4-year-old son with another woman, Lamar Patrick, also died.
The medical examiner ruled the manner of death in both cases to be undetermined. He suspected Alijah may have died from meningitis and Patrick from choking on candy. But Townes still had her doubts.
"For one my son was healthy, two he went to the doctor 3 days prior to his death."
At the doctor's Alijah received a clean bill of health.
Action News questioned Michael two years ago he denied killing his boys.
In both deaths, investigators say Michael was the focus of the investigation but the District Attorney simply didn't have enough evidence in light of the medical examiners report.
But Michael's admission to two friends shortly before his death confirms what Townes says she knew all along her little boy was murdered.
"It's a little bit of relief for me because I feel like maybe I can finally move on and that chapter of my life of Alijah can slowly begin to close and have a little bit of closure."
Michael has 5 other children. One question remains. Why would Michael want to kill his sons? Townes believes the motive for her son's death, was an upcoming child support hearing.
Prior to death, Aaron Michael admitted to friends he killed two of his children
Tiffany Patrick said her son Lamar loved spending time with his father, Aaron Michael, left.
By Rose Quinn and Cindy Scharr,
POSTED: 07/22/09, 12:01 AM EDT | UPDATED: ON 07/22/2009
BROOKHAVEN -- About this time last year, the mothers of the two children Aaron Michael confessed to killing just before his own death, had requested a meeting with the District Attorney, detectives and the medical examiner to air their suspicions, one mother said Tuesday night.
"I always knew that what happened to Lamar wasn't what Aaron said," Tiffany Patrick said, composed but touchingly reflective following a day of what she called an emotional roller coaster.
"I have peace in my heart knowing what happened to Lamar, even though I will never know why," said Patrick, 25, of Ridley Township.
Michael confessed to killing two of his children several years ago, just moments before he pointed a gun at a police officer and was shot and killed early Tuesday.
The scope of the tragedy unfolded when Michael made the confession to two friends in phone conversations shortly after gunning down his former girlfriend, Andrea Arrington, in Ridley Township Monday night, according to Delaware County District Attorney G. Michael Green.
Michael, who was also the father of Arrington's 2-year-old son, told his friends that he was responsible for the deaths of his sons Lamar Patrick, 4, on Sept. 29, 2005, and Alijah Townes, 4 months, on July 21, 2007.
"I have a lot of emotions going on. I don't know how to feel," Patrick said, speaking at her mother's home. "I just don't know who to direct my anger to, besides Aaron. ... I do feel like there is justice for Lamar and Alijah. I feel like their souls can rest in peace."
According to Patrick, authorities said last year that they would look into the children's deaths.
The deaths of Michael's two children were never ruled a homicide, but were listed as "undetermined" by the Delaware County Medical Examiner's Office.
There was no physical evidence to indicate that the children had been murdered, Green said.
According to Patrick, Michael had maintained that their son had choked on a piece of Jolly Rancher hard candy.
"They told me Aaron suffocated Lamar in his sleep," Patrick said, referring to the authorities.
Patrick described herself as a friend of Alijah Townes' mom, Nicole, who lives in New Jersey. She said they spoke on the phone after the news broke.
According to Patrick, Michael had previously said Alijah "slipped in the car."
Green said Tuesday that investigations involving the children's deaths remain open.
"They were extremely suspicious of the circumstances that led to the deaths" of their children, Green said of the mothers.
The mothers of both children had primary custody. The children had been visiting him when they died, Green said.
According to Patrick, Lamar spent Wednesday nights and weekends with his dad.
Patrick said she wanted her son to have a relationship with his father.
"No matter what went wrong with us, Lamar truly loved his dad," she said. "At the end of the day, he had a relationship with Aaron. When he had that, Lamar was happy."
Added Patrick, "When he was around, Aaron was a great dad, I'll say that."
Patrick knew Michael since she was 14. She was never fearful of him, but she had sought a protection from abuse when he threatened her about child support. Patrick said she dropped it because the situation improved.
It was after Alijah's death that Patrick said she stopped all contact with Michael. Until then, she had given Michael the benefit of the doubt, she said.
Patrick said she drove by Michael just a few days ago. As usual, they didn't acknowledge one another.
Patrick lives on Constitution Avenue, the same street where Michael ambushed Arrington. She and Arrington were not friends but cordial, she said. Patrick is spending time at her mother's home in Brookhaven, the same house where family and friends gathered after Lamar's funeral.
"It's so sad what happened," she said. "There is a little boy that doesn't have a mother or a father."
Among the many special things she shared with her son -- whom she named after a friend because she simply loved the name -- Patrick said she misses bedtime the most. When he was really young, they would play a little game, "I love you to the moon."
As he got older and wanted to stall, he'd stretch the game to include the sun, the clouds, and all the stars.
"Everything in the sky. Anything to keep from going to bed," Patrick said. "I loved that."
Man kills Ridley mom, admits slaying 2 sons, is killed by cops
Victim, 23, had order to keep him away
Updated: JULY 22, 2009 — 3:01 AM EDT
Audra Thornton-Arrington, mother of the victim, is consoled. (Dave Schlott / For the Daily News)
by WILLIAM BENDER & STEPHANIE FARR, firstname.lastname@example.org 215-854-5255
Andrea Arrington, a 23-year-old working mother, was a strong-willed Ridley High grad with a supportive family, big plans for the future and the drive to make them a reality.
She'd just been accepted to Temple University and wanted to become a radio broadcaster.
Her ex-boyfriend Aaron Michael, the troubled son of a longtime Chester cop, had other things in mind.
Infuriated that Arrington had filed a restraining order against him, Michael, 29, grabbed his father's .40-caliber handgun - believed to be his service pistol - Monday night and ambushed Arrington in Ridley Township when she arrived at the babysitter's house to pick up their 2-year-old son, police said.
He opened fire before the babysitter opened the door.
"She collapsed on the ground," Ridley Detective Sgt. Scott Willoughby said of Arrington. "He stood above her and continued to fire into her - upwards of 11 times."
"He became desperate," said her mother, Audra Thornton-Arrington, "and he took my baby from me."
It wasn't the first life that Michael has taken, Delaware County District Attorney G. Michael Green said yesterday afternoon.
In a phone confession that he made to two friends after killing Arrington, Michael admitted to slaying two sons he had fathered with other women, Green said.
The causes of deaths of 4-year-old Lamar Patrick on Sept. 29, 2005, and of 4-month-old Alijah Townes on July 21, 2007, had been ruled "undetermined" by the county Medical Examiner's Office. But both boys' mothers were "extremely suspicious" of the circumstances of their deaths, Green said.
Michael had been interviewed in relation to both cases and had maintained his innocence, Green said.
Michael confessed at about midnight Monday while holed up in his dad's house on 23rd Street in Chester, where he had gone after shooting Arrington.
Moments later, he was shot by a Chester police officer and was pronounced dead at 12:36 a.m. yesterday. Green said that Michael refused to drop his gun when police asked.
Michael had been living with his father, John Michael, a 15-year veteran of the force. He was in Florida at the time.
"That telephone conversation took place literally minutes before the exchange with Chester police that resulted in his death," Green said of the confession. "Up until this moment, this is the first firm information we have suggesting that his hand had any part to do with the death of Lamar Patrick and Alijah Townes."
Patrick died overnight in what "appeared to be" a possible choking, Green said. Townes tested positive for meningitis, but that was not determined to have killed him, Green said. Both mothers have been notified of Michael's admission.
Yesterday, about two dozen friends and relatives descended on Arrington's grandmother's Constitution Avenue home, which is next door to the babysitter's house. Tears streamed down the cheeks of Arrington's 8-year-old brother, David.
Her 2-year-old son, Aaron, scooted up and down the sidewalk on a plastic tricycle.
"Now, he's left fatherless and motherless," said Koy Stewart, pastor of New Life Ministries, who was consoling the family.
"She was a beautiful girl. She was special to me," Thornton-Arrington said of her oldest daughter. "We were very proud of the woman she turned out to be."
Thornton-Arrington said her daughter had broken up with Michael weeks ago and filed a protection-from-abuse order this month. He responded by threatening to kill her entire family and harassing her, she said.
"While still conscious, in a dying declaration, Andrea was able to tell the police officers that Aaron Michael shot her and that she had a protection-from-abuse petition and order entered against him," Green said.
From the day she met Michael, who has prior theft convictions, Thornton-Arrington said she believed he was "rotten."
"There was something in his face" that was deeply disturbing, she said. "I can't be sympathetic to the fact that he's not here either."
But Michael's next-door neighbor Darrell Short said he hadn't noticed "any indication that anything was wrong or that he was having problems."
"He was very friendly, nice, polite," Short said.
Arrington was taken to Crozer-Chester Medical Center Monday, where she died of her wounds at about 7:30 a.m. yesterday.
"She fought to the end, but she just lost so much blood that they couldn't save her," Thornton-Arrington said. "She opened her eyes and looked at her dad and I and we told her that we loved her and were waiting for her to make a recovery.
"She just never did."
Stewart, the pastor, said victims of domestic abuse need to seek help immediately – not wait until the abuse becomes physical.
"This is the manifestation of something that had been brewing for a long time," he said. If left unchecked, he added, "Eventually, it comes to this."
As she stood at the crime scene yesterday, Thornton-Arrington shuddered to think of what could have happened if Michael had arrived a minute later, when her grandson may have emerged from the babysitter's home.
"Thank God," she said, "because he might have taken him too." *
Police doubted man's story on death of children
By ROSE QUINN, CINDY SCHARR
POSTED: 07/23/09, 12:01 AM EDT | UPDATED: ON 07/23/2009
RIDLEY PARK - Veteran police Sgt. Harold Snyder had his own working theory as to how infant Alijah Townes died in 2007. But without strong enough probable cause evidence for an arrest, it became a waiting game.
Gut feelings aside.
"He could pull off an interview, but you knew you were talking to a weasel," Snyder said Wednesday night, referring to Alijah's father, 29-year-old Aaron Michael of Chester.
Stopping short of calling Michael a murder suspect, principally because the baby's death has not been ruled a homicide, Snyder said, "Everyone just knew ..."
Police Chief Thomas Byrne, too, said though details about Townes' death two years ago Tuesday are a little vague, certain things always stood out to him.
"He showed up at Taylor (Hospital) with the baby in the car, saying that the baby choked on French fries or something," Byrne said, referring to Michael.
"Then, he didn't even hang around in the emergency room," Byrne said. "To me, that was odd."
Shortly after he hunted down his former girlfriend Andrea Arrington and shot her about 11 times late Monday, Michael bared his soul and confessed that he had killed two of his children several years ago. Arrington, 23, of Ridley Township, died Tuesday morning. She and Michael have a surviving 2-year-old son.
According to three law enforcement sources, Michael admitted in phone conversations with two friends -- just before he was shot and killed by a Chester police officer -- that he put plastic bags over the heads of Lamar Patrick, 4, on Sept. 29, 2005, and Alijah Townes, aged 4 months, on July 21, 2007, as they slept.
The cause and manner of the deaths of both children remain officially undetermined.
Delaware County Medical Examiner Dr. Fredric N. Hellman was asked Wednesday if his office would re-open the probe into the children's deaths.
Hellman said he wanted to get more information and check the credibility of the information attributed to the father.
"In a 4-month-old, it's so easy to smother these children and leave no clue," Hellman said. "If you can't prove it, then at best you call it undetermined and leave the door open should further info come forward down the road."
Byrne said a day or two after Alijah Townes' death, he started getting phone calls from reporters asking about the investigation, and whether he was aware of Lamar's death.
That's when Snyder decided to put a call into the Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division for some assistance in the investigation, Byrne and Snyder said.
"It's never been closed," Snyder said of the case. "But it was never open as a homicide, either. It's always been an ongoing investigation.
"To satisfy our own records, what we'll do now is change it to a homicide and close it out. Since we can't arrest or prosecute, we will close it out by exceptional means."
Snyder, a 36-year police veteran, said the Townes boy was one case that always stuck with him. He even remembered taking "a thick pile of medical records" home and showing it to his wife, a nurse practitioner.
"I had her translate all that for me," he said.
Alijah Townes was unresponsive on arrival at Taylor Hospital, Snyder recalled Wednesday.
"My recollection is he was DOA (dead on arrival)," Snyder said.
"(Michael) said he found him slumped down in the car seat. He said he had given him French fries," Snyder said. "The doctor didn't find any French fries in his throat."
Both Snyder and Byrne remember wondering at the time who would give a child that age French fries.
Tuesday night, Tiffany Patrick of Ridley Township told the Daily Times she never believed her son, Lamar, choked on a piece of Jolly Rancher hard candy, as Michael had maintained.
"I'll never know why, but I do know how my son died," she said.
On Wednesday, Deputy District Attorney Michael Galantino offered some insight into how difficult it is to pinpoint the cause of death in such cases.
Galantino, who sits on the county's Child Death Review Team and the state Attorney General's Medical and Legal Advisory Board on Child Abuse, said he had been told there was no forensic evidence found during the autopsies to make a determination as to how Michael's two sons died.
"Suffocation deaths are very difficult to determine unless there is evidence of ligature or tying as in strangulation cases," he said.
Galantino also noted that the AG's board, which reviews cases from across the state, has had similar cases in the past.
"We receive cases that are difficult to determine," he said. "And sadly, there have been some cases like this that have come before the board where there's just little or no evidence as to what happened."
In some cases, Galantino said one bit of evidence or information is eventually discovered that fits with what the investigators know and the case is resolved.
Snyder worked the Townes case with county CID Detective James DiRomauldo. He said he interviewed Michael two days after the child's death.
According to Snyder: Michael picked up his son at the baby's mother's house in New Jersey. They crossed the Delaware Memorial Bridge and headed to the Christiana Mall in Delaware. Michael had a photo of Alijah taken and put on a key chain for himself at a kiosk in the mall. At some point on the way back to Michael's home in Pennsylvania, they stopped at McDonald's.
"He said he was on Chester Pike and drove to the closest hospital," Snyder said.
What exactly happened and where, Snyder can't say.
"I'm sure he drove to Taylor Hospital because no one knew him there," Snyder said, offering more into his working theory. "He had to distance himself from Crozer. That's where the other boy died."
Snyder said the specifics of Michael's story all checked out.
"The kid looked all right in the photograph," Snyder said.
He even spoke to the woman who snapped the shot, and she said nothing seemed odd at the time.
"The way he told the story, it's plausible," Snyder said. "The father's driving, the car seat is in the back. He turns around and the baby's head is down."
As for the plastic bag, Snyder said, "It wouldn't take long. You wouldn't have to put it on tight either, just drop it over. The baby would keep breathing. The oxygen would run out."
Said Snyder, "The thing with a homicide is that when you get a working theory, sometimes you just have to wait. With a homicide, you do have the luxury of time because there is no statute of limitations.
"If you jump the gun, you never get a second chance," he said, referring to double jeopardy.
"Let's say Michael didn't die," Snyder said. "What he told his friends, all that would have been information we needed to make the next move."
Police: Cop's Son Admits Killing His Own Kids
Police say confession came after dad shot the mother of his third child
Aaron Michael, 29, shot Andrea Arrington, 23, more than 10 times Monday night.
The son of a Chester police officer used his dad's gun to kill the mother of his third child, according to prosecutors. Then he ran back to dad's house, phoned two friends and confessed to killing his two other young children years ago. Within the hour, Aaron Michael was gunned down by his father's fellow officers.
Michael, 29, was questioned in 2005 when his 4-year-old son, Lamar Patrick died, and again in 2007 when four-month-old Alijah Townes died. In both cases, the medical examiners ruled the cause of death as "undetermined" and prosecutors did not have enough evidence to link him to the deaths, but are now re-opening each case.
"[The mothers] were extremely suspicious of the circumstances that led to the death in each case," said Delaware County D.A. G. Michael Green.
Andrea Arrington, 23, was Michael's ex-girlfriend and the mother of his third son. She filed a protection from abuse order against him on July 2. Last week he violated that order when he threatened to kill her. Monday night he went to Arrington's Ridley Township home and shot her more than 10 times with his father's duty pistol, a 40-caliber semi-automatic, according to police.
Arrington died at the hospital.
"She was beautiful to me," said Arrington's mother, Audra Thornton-Arrington. "She was a good girl…and wanted to be in television." Arrington was about to earn her associates degree and was set to attend Temple University in the fall.
Michael lived with his dad, a 15-year veteran of the Chester police force, and that's where police found him just after midnight. His dad was out of town at the time. Michael tried to run out the back door but was stopped by an officer and raised his gun, according to investigators. That's when the officer fired one shot and hit Michael in the chest.
A memorial is growing at the spot where Arrington was gunned down as family and friends grieve her loss. Autopsies will be performed on both the Michael and Arrington.
Published at 6:39 PM EDT on Jul 21, 2009 | Updated at 10:08 PM EDT on Jul 28, 2009