A 52-year-old woman accused of fatally stabbing a man 77 times in his East Germantown apartment, then setting his body ablaze last month, was arrested in Mayfair Thursday afternoon, authorities said Friday.
Tina Vanderhorst was taken into custody without incident at a female friend's apartment on the 2900 block of Benner Street at about 2 p.m. Thursday, said Jim Burke, assistant chief deputy for the U.S. Marshals Service's Eastern Pennsylvania field office.
She is accused of fatally stabbing Robert Lynch, 64, in his apartment on the 500 block of East Church Lane, then setting his apartment on fire on the morning of Sept. 12, police said.
Vanderhorst has had trouble with the law in the past. In 1995, she was arrested on charges that she sold her toddler son to a stranger for $500, then used the money to buy crack cocaine.
In the most recent incident, about 9:15 a.m. Sept. 12, firefighters went to the East Germantown apartment building to extinguish a blaze, then found Lynch dead. Police have said his body was in the advanced stages of decomposition and had sustained more damage from the fire.
Police on Friday said Vanderhorst lived in the same apartment building as Lynch, but in a different unit, and that they had allegedly been friends.
Burke said the Marshals Service and police homicide detectives had developed information that led them to Vanderhorst's whereabouts. When members of the Marshals' fugitive task force and homicide detectives knocked on the third-floor apartment on Benner Street Thursday afternoon, Vanderhorst's friend answered the door. Vanderhorst was inside.
"She put up no resistance," said Burke. "We placed her under arrest."
Vanderhorst was charged with murder, arson, possession of an instrument of crime and related offenses. An arraignment-court magistrate Friday morning denied her bail. She faces a Nov. 2 preliminary hearing.
In the 995 child selling case, Vanderhorst pleaded no contest to endangering the welfare of her child and did not then challenge charges that she sold her then 2-year-old son, Ke-Shaun, for $500 and then bought the cocaine.
At her January 1997 sentencing hearing, however, a tearful Vanderhorst claimed that she did not sell her son to buy cocaine, but admitted she gave the boy to a stranger who came to her door.
"I was under the influence of alcohol and drugs. I take full responsibility as far as being high," Vanderhorst told the court before she was sentenced to 2 ½ to seven years in prison,
She testified that the woman who came to her house claimed to be from the city Department of Human Services. Vanderhorst said she gave her son to the woman. "I had no reason to believe this lady was not who she said she was.''
"Is he dead, or is he alive? I don't know,'' said Vanderhorst, sobbing. "Fifteen months have gone by. . . . I did not sell my child. I could sell my body, I could sell my possessions but not my flesh and blood, your honor. I love my baby!''