Police announced on Sunday that they have arrested and charged Christopher Murray, 48, the husband of strangled jogger Constance, 46, for her murder. Constance Murray had gone out running on Monday night at approximately 9:00 p.m. and did not return home. Her body was found in Pennypack Park, located in northeast Philadelphia, on Tuesday. After the discovery of her body, police issued a warning to female joggers in the area to be extra cautious while running until the person responsible for her murder was found. Area residents were put on edge at the news that a neighbor had been killed in the park, which is a popular place for jogging, walking dogs and playing with children. A reward fund offered $50,000 on Friday morning for any information that might help to discover the killer.
Philadelphia Police Lt. Philip Riehl disclosed that Murray was considered a suspect in his wife’s murder “early on and remained a suspect until he confessed.” Riehl said that Murray is sorry for murdering his wife, adding that in his opinion, the murder was not premeditated but was instead a result of sudden anger. Riehl characterized the argument as a result of “an ongoing domestic discord” between the Murrays, who had two daughters, 12 and 15.
Police believe that when Constance Murray left to go jogging on Monday night, her husband followed behind her in a car, which led to an argument. The pair continued to fight, with Christopher Murray trailing his wife as she jogged, until they both headed to a park bench to continue the argument. Riehl explained that Constance Murray went to the bench willingly so that the two of them could discuss whatever had prompted the argument, but “things went bad,” and Christopher Murray ended up strangling his wife.
When she never returned home from her jog, Constance Murray’s family notified authorities approximately three hours later. She was discovered the next morning, when a woman out walking her dog found the body. A cell phone and headphones that had belonged to Constance Murray were later found in a sewer near the park. Her autopsy revealed that she had fought against her attacker.
Police reviewing surveillance footage discovered that Christopher Murray had been in his car that night, and police brought him in for questioning on Saturday night, which lasted until Sunday morning. After parts of his story failed to add up, he was given a lie detector test, after which he confessed to the murder of his wife. According to Riehl, Christopher Murray never contacted friends or family of Constance Murray to determine whether she was with anyone when she went missing, saying that his actions (going to hospitals and then the police station) appeared as more of a “show.” Before his arrest, Christopher Murray gave an interview to the Philadelphia Daily News in which he said that the death of his wife was “devastating” and praised her as a woman, a mother and a friend.
An obituary for Constance Murray contains a notification that her funeral will be held on Monday. A memorial service was scheduled to take place on Sunday.
Court papers do not list a lawyer for Christopher Murray. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 27 in Philadelphia.
By Jennifer Pfalz