|Thursday, Feb 2, 2012|
During the early hours of January 14th, Kevin Kless, 23, a native of Philadelphia, was assaulted in the park just east of Independence Hall and subsequently died in a hospital (click on this link for the original report). Although the Philadelphia Police Department lead the ensuing investigation, park rangers and dispatchers worked closely with homicide detectives by poring over hundreds of hours of video footage from several security cameras. The cameras did not catch any usable video footage of the attack, but they did capture a possible target vehicle and several potential witnesses who could have been at the scene either as it was occurring or immediately after the assault. The investigation revealed that Kless and his two female companions had left a local bar around 2:20 a.m. and that Kless then attempted to hail a cab. Reports indicate that the cab driver refused to pick up the trio and that Kless exchanged words with him. At this time, investigators later learned, the men who assaulted Kless thought that he was yelling at them, and they chased him and the two women to the front of the Second Bank, then assaulted him and continued to do so even after he became unconscious. Due to high media interest and the possibility of federal prosecution, the park asked for assistance from a special agent from the NPS Investigative Services Branch. The agent and the park's law enforcement specialist collected additional video from park neighbors and worked directly with PPD homicide detectives on the investigation. On January 18th, a tipster called PPD with information about the incident. He said he’d overheard a man bragging about the assault and inquired about the $20,000 reward. This was the big break in the case. On January 20th, U.S. marshals and PPD homicide fugitive unit officers picked up the man, who was then brought in for questioning. Later that same day, the other two men were arrested, and each has been charged with murder. All three suspects, who are ages 19, 20 and 23 and from the Philadelphia area, confessed to the crime. The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is currently taking the lead in the prosecution.