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Nunez Family Murders: Who Killed Them? How Did They Die?

September 8, 2020
4 min read

Investigation Discovery presents ‘Homicide City,’ a show that looks at some of the most gruesome murders to have ever occurred in the country. It investigates the events with the help of homicide detectives, interviews with family members, and prevalent news sources. In an episode titled ‘Tragedy Strikes Lorena’s,’ the story of a birthday celebration turning into a crime scene is discussed.

How Was The Nunez Family Killed?

It was Porfirio Nunez’s 50th birthday, and his wife Johana, his sister Lina Sanchez, and 2 daughters, Jessica and Laura, were all present at their grocery store on 50th and Parrish Streets in Philadelphia. The date was September 6, 2011. That’s when then 19-year-old Jessica answered a call from someone asking if their store, Lorena’s Grocery, had any security cameras, or if they required any. She gave the phone to her father. 

Jessica, who survived the incident along with her sister Laura, said, “He said no, he was ok, that’s when the guys came in and I turned around, they were there with the guns.” However, two men barged in and shot Porfirio before he could make it to the gun housed in the shop. The killers then went to the back of the store, where they killed 44-year-old Johana and 48-year-old Lina for no apparent reason.

After that, while begging for her life, Jessica handed them money, and the killers then fled. What is even more horrifying is that the eldest daughter witnessed the triple murder unfold right in front of her— “The guy let me see everything, like he was turning my head, making me turn around and see everything. It was just mean.” 

Lina’s son was not a witness to the crime, but he was present in the apartment upstairs. On hearing the commotion, he went down and saw his mother. Javish Sanchez recalled, “I seen my mom. I was able to wipe her face, she had a lot of blood and I touched her belly. I said, ‘Can you hear me?’ She shook her head like yes, once. She was still breathing, but that was it.”

The family was quite loved in their community and the murders shocked everyone. Common Pleas Judge Glenn Bronson even said this about the crime— “I’ve been doing this a long time, and it’s hard to imagine a more terrible crime. These three people’s lives were taken in an outrageous manner, a manner I am completely incapable of understanding.” 

Who Killed the Nunez Family?

Initially, the police caught a glimpse of the murderers on a surveillance camera, but due to its poor and grainy quality, were unable to generate any leads. They offered a lucrative reward for any information regarding the crime. However, this was in vain. Now retired Commissioner Charles Ramsey also said, “It’s doubtful that you come into a totally strange neighborhood to commit a crime like this. I find it very, very rare, and I’ve been in policing 40 years, that something happens and nobody knows anything.” 

Image Credit: CBS PHILADELPHIA

The police would catch their lucky break when they realized that three men had also robbed other grocery stores. One man would stand as a lookout outside, whereas two of them would enter the facility and rob it. Then, in February 2012, two men were arrested for the murders. The first one was 31-year-old Ibrahim Muhammed of the 6200 block of Reedland Street, and the second person was 30-year-old Nalik Shariff Scott of the 1300 block of S 24th Street. Muhammed was actually brought in on a drug charge, but Scott’s arrest pertained to the murders. Although the surveillance footage from the Nunez murders was grainy, authorities were able to nail the killers after they robbed Jaquez Grocery Store. 

Five years after the murders, Muhammed and Scott were convicted on all charges, including three counts of first-degree murder. They faced the death penalty as well. However, the jury was hung and as per procedure, Judge Bronson had no choice but to dismiss the jury. He then awarded the men three consecutive sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

Read More: Where Are Ibrahim Muhammed and Nalik Scott Now?

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