Sangaree homicide suspect arrested, confesses to killings
A suspect has been arrested in connection the double homicide of a mother and daughter who were found dead Tuesday in their Sangaree home.
Jacob Theopholis Philip, 22, a student at the U.S. Navy Nuclear Power Training Command in Goose Creek, was developed as a person of interest in the ensuing homicide investigation, according to a Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office statement issued Wednesday afternoon.
Officers with the Virginia Beach, Va. Police Department arrested Philip at about 10:24 p.m. on Tuesday. Earlier that day BCSO officers arrived at 302 Kershaw Drive in Sangaree to find the bodies of 26-year-old Ashley Kaney and her 8-year-old daughter Riley Burdick.
Riley’s cause of death was asphyxiation by strangulation, according to an autopsy report released by Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury Wednesday afternoon.
Salisbury said an autopsy was conducted on Kaney but the toxicology and microscopic test results were still pending as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.
On Tuesday the VBPD warrant squad received information that a murder suspect who has ties to Virginia Beach may possibly be in the oceanfront area of Virginia Beach, VBPD Public Affairs Officer Tonya Borman said.
“Our oceanfront community policing squad began working with the warrant fugitive unit canvassing the oceanfront and surrounding areas,” Borman said Wednesday. “At about 10:24 p.m. one of our officers spotted the possible suspect vehicle in a parking lot.
“The individual was approached, identified and arrested without incident. It was also determined that the vehicle the suspect was driving had been stolen earlier in the evening from our town center area.
“He has been charged in Virginia Beach with the grand larceny of a stolen vehicle. He is currently being held in our correctional center without bond.”
BCSO has charged Philip with two counts of murder and he is expected to be extradited to South Carolina. Philip has confessed to killing Kaney and her daughter, according to a BCSO statement.
It was determined the deaths were the result of an isolated case of domestic violence and did not pose a threat to the community, according to a BCSO statement.
Riley was a student at Sangaree Intermediate School. She had not been at school for two days and her mother could not be reached by school employees, who requested a safety check.
BCSO deputies received no response from the residence. They located an open window and entered. That’s when they discovered the victims, according to a BCSO statement.
At least 10 deputies were on the scene into the night on Tuesday. The street was blocked off by crime scene tape.
A neighbor of the victims, Paul Thomas, called the situation “unreal.”
“Never seen anything like it,” said Thomas, who added that he didn’t realize anything was amiss until police showed up at the house on Tuesday.
Thomas said the victims had lived at the residence about a year.
“Senseless acts such as this have far-reaching effects on not only the families involved but our entire community,” BCSO Sheriff Wayne DeWitt said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ms. Kaney’s family during this difficult time.”
“This is an unspeakable tragedy,” Berkeley County School District Superintendent Dr. Rodney Thompson said in a statement released Wednesday. “On behalf of the district, I offer my condolences, and our hearts and prayers are with Riley’s and Ms. Kaney’s loved ones and the entire Sangaree community.”
Since learning of the news, the school has implemented a crisis response plan for students and staff. Communication is going out to all parents today, BCSD Public Information Officer Susan Haire said Wednesday.
Additional school counselors and district-level support staff are on-hand at the school today, assisting the community in processing this tragedy. Counseling and grief supports will continue to be available throughout the week, according to Haire.
“Today and in the coming days, school personnel and district officials will be focused on fully supporting the school community and responding to its needs,” Haire said Wednesday.
Salisbury commended BCSO for putting together a team of investigators from nine agencies and thus making an arrest within hours. Those agencies are: BCSO, The U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Virginia Technical College Police Department, The Blacksburg, Va. Police Department, VBPD, the SLED Child Facility Unit, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Berkeley County Coroner’s Office and the 9th Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office.