By Ray O’Hanlon
Three of the four men believed responsible for the death of Neil Martin McConigley were in custody.
Two of them had even made confessions.
But the fourth man, the man believed to have fired the shots that ended the life of the Donegal native was still on the run.
And as likely as not, Marvon Mullings was putting as much distance between himself and Philadelphia as he possibly could.
The distance was indeed long. Mullings was picked up in recent days in Jamaica and this week awaits an extradition hearing in the island nation’s capital, Kingston.
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The arrest of Mullings came at the end of a sustained investigation by the Philadelphia Police Department’s Cold Case Squad, the members of which will not rest easy until Mullings is brought back to a city where brotherly love took a fatal break on Oct. 22, 1999, the day that McConigley was gunned down in cold blood.
“We’re very pleased with the arrest in Jamaica,” Sergeant Charles McMullin of the Cold Case Squad told the Echo this week.
“We had tracked Mullings through Florida where he had police contact,” Sergeant McMullin said.
“Police contact” in this case was a brush with the law, but not one firm enough to stop Mullings in his tracks.
The trail went cold for a while in sunny Florida. But, as McMullin explained, it was picked up again through “sources” that ultimately led to Jamaica.
McMulin said that the Cold Case Squad received extra encouragement in its investigation from McConigley’s many friends inn Philadelphia.
“A lot of his friends came and talked to us and that was indeed very encouraging. We don’t often get a response like that in cases such as this,” he said.
The length of time it takes for 24-year-old Mullings to return to Philadelphia now depends on whether or not he waives extradition proceedings, or contests his departure from Jamaica.
According to Detective Edward Rocks, who handles extradition proceedings for the Philadelphia police fugitive squad, Mullings could be returned directly to Philadelphia in the combined custody of police department detectives and U.S. Marshals.
Alternately, he could be first taken to either Miami or San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“It could work a few different ways,” Rocks told the Echo.
Just about any way will do for an Irish community in Philadelphia that is eager to see justice done in the McConigley case
McConigley, from Fanad, was shot as he chased a gang of four men who had robbed his business partner.
His death at the age of just 35 sent shock waves through the tight-knit Irish community in Philadelphia, a city with an especially large concentration of immigrants from Donegal and other northwestern counties.
Three men, twins Marlon and Alan Pitter, and Cerrone Furman are all being held without bail in connection with the shooting.
All three men have been charged with multiple counts, including murder. The Pitters have made the confessional statements to investigators.
McConigley, who came to the U.S. in 1987, had established a stucco business with his partner, Sean Clinton.
On the day of the murder, Clinton was confronted by the four men and robbed of $560 in payroll cash at the premises of the company he owned with McConigley, CMAC Construction Inc. on Daggett Street in West Philadelphia. Clinton was tied up but otherwise unharmed.
McConigley drove into the yard outside the office and spotted the robbers as they escaped. He pursued them in his car but the gang turned on him and fired several shots through the windshield of his car, fatally wounding him.