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Man is charged in ’99 Philly murder of Donegal man

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Pierce O’Reilly

Cerrone Furman was brought before Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas on Thursday, charged with the murder of 35-year-old Donegal native Neil Martin McConigley on Oct. 22 1999.

This was Furman’s second appearance in court after he failed to be represented by an attorney last Feburary. The judge presiding over the case ordered on this occasion that attorney Gott Lieb represent the 20-year-old defendant so that legal proceedings may advance. No date has yet been set for the next hearing. Furman is also charged with aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, violation of the uniform firearms act, and criminal conspiracy.

Originally from Tamney in Fannad, McConigley was killed by a gang of youths during a robbery at his construction business. Police are still searching for a second suspect, and believe two others may have been involved.

Sgt. Charles McMullin, head of the homicide division, said a warrant has been issued for three other suspects.

"We’re very confident that further arrests will be made in this case very shortly," McMullin said.

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The police, who say they know the names of all three, have released only one other name, Marlon Mullings, 20, who police believe fired the shots that killed McConigley. Mullings has given various addresses in Philadelphia.

Police believe the suspects were the robbers who targeted the stucco business, CMAC Construction Inc., on Daggett Street, near Vine, owned by McConigley and a partner. After robbing the partner in the company’s garage, the pair fled in a getaway car driven by a third man, McMullin said.

McConigley’s partner survived the robbery unharmed but told how the gang entered the premises and grabbed the payroll from him. They tied him up and escaped with $560. It is understood the thieves then realized McConigley had witnessed the robbery from the yard.

McConigley had driven into the yard, then started to chase the speeding getaway car, but when he caught up with it, he was shot to death. His murder stunned the region’s Irish-American community. The parish priest at Tamney, Father Friel, said at the time that McConigley’s family was devastated by the tragedy.

"Mr. McConigley comes from a large family who still live throughout this area, and they’re deeply distressed by the news," he said. "This is a tragedy."

In the weeks after his death, a group of about 40 friends and acquaintances offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

"Martin’s wounds still bleed in the heart of our community," one friend of the victim said last week. "The bleeding has slowed a little, but it won’t stop until this case is finally closed and the criminals responsible for his murder are brought to justice."

McConigley came to the U.S. in 1987 and later formed a stucco business with his partner, Sean Clinton, also an Irish immigrant. McConigley and his fiancee, Joan Havey, had a son, Neil Martin McConigley Jr. The boy is now 2 years old.

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