Girl, 14, charged with murder in death of Philadelphia animal rescuer

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By Robert Moran The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)

PHILADELPHIA — A 14-year-old girl was charged with murder in the beating death of a well-known animal rescuer inside his Northeast Philadelphia home this week, authorities said early Saturday.

Ajahnae Smaugh is accused of killing Albert Chernoff, 59, with a blunt weapon late Monday night at his home in Rhawnhurst.

She also was charged in the case with tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice, and possession of an instrument of crime, police said. The girl surrendered to homicide detectives Thursday.

Early Tuesday, police responded to a report from a neighbor and found Chernoff partially tied to a bed with a massive head wound and several slashing injuries on his chest. Medics pronounced him dead at the scene.

Police later released surveillance video that allegedly shows the teen casually walking through the living room and later entering the kitchen to wash her hands, and then looking inside the refrigerator and freezer before leaving the house.

Chernoff went by the nickname of “Alley Cat,” which he also used as the name of his one-man cat rescue operation. He appeared on the NATGeoTV reality show “Rescue Ink” about tattooed bikers campaigning against animal abuse.

A native of Northeast Philadelphia, he was a longtime city employee and worked as a building maintenance supervisor at Philadelphia International Airport.

After his death, animal welfare workers recovered 11 cats, three turtles and two frogs from his home.

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