A 14-year-old girl has been charged with the murder of a well-known animal rescuer who was found tied to his bed naked and beaten to death at his Philadelphia home.
Ajahnae Smaugh is accused of killing Albert Chernoff, 59, with a blunt weapon around 10.30pm Monday night at his home in Rhawnhurst.
The teenager, who surrendered to police on Thursday, is also charged with tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice, and possession of an instrument of crime, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Officers had gone to the victim’s home after receiving a report from a neighbor Tuesday shortly before 3am, supposedly because Chernoff’s car was rolled up against the garage door and items inside had been moved around.
When police arrived, they said they found Chernoff – a well-known local animal rescuer – partially tied to his bed, with a massive head wound and multiple slashing injuries on his chest.
Well-known Philadelphia animal rescuer Albert Chernoff, 59, was found dead in his home early Tuesday morning. He was partially tied to his bed and had a massive head wound
Police arrived at Chernoff’s home after receiving a call from a neighbor. It was reported that a female was seen exiting his home before authorities arrived
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Sources told 6ABC that Chernoff had been attacked with a 2 x 4 board embedded with nails.
In an attempt to discover the identity of a suspect Wednesday, police released surveillance footage which appeared to be taken from inside Chernoff’s home.
The video showed a person walking through the home’s living room and kitchen area, using the sink to wash their hands and looking through the fridge before leaving through the front door. Cats can be seen in the background of the clip.
Police did not specify the gender of the person in the video, but noted that the suspect was wearing a black jacket, a pink top, red sweatpants, white sneakers and carried a black backpack.
The suspect was said to be armed and dangerous. Police also offered a $20,000 reward leading to an arrest or conviction.
Police released this surveillance video showing a suspect wandering around what appears to be Chernoff’s home. Cats can be seen lounging and walking around in the background
The pink and red-clad suspect could be seen washing their hands in the kitchen sink
The suspect can be seen here reaching over to open the fridge, before rummaging around it
Authorities are seen here entering Chernoff’s Philadelphia home after his body was discovered
Police had previously stated that witnesses reported seeing a female leave Chernoff’s home prior to officers arriving and discovering his body, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
6ABC reported that a 14-year-old girl was in custody Thursday night, after having surrendered herself to police while accompanied by an attorney.
It’s unclear if the 14-year-old girl is the same person who was seen in the surveillance video, though.
Chernoff was said to have had 11 cats, three turtles, and two frogs at his home at the time of his death. The animals were rescued by local animal-welfare workers.
Friends told 6ABC that Chernoff was a motorcycle-riding Army veteran who worked at Philadelphia International Airport.
‘Al was amazing, anything you needed he would do. He was known for building shelters for all the feral stray cats in the city. He was a good man,’ Chernoff’s friend, Angelo Ruffo, said.
‘If you have interacted with a cat rescue or helped trap in Philadelphia you’ve probably met him,’ Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia’s Blake Martin told NBC10.
Chernoff appeared on Nat Geo’s Rescue Ink reality series, going by the nickname Alley Cat.