The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, December 24, 2002  

Police Arrest Crack-Smoking N.J. Couple in Death of Camden Nun

Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer reports that police have arrested Edward Chinchillo, of Williamstown, N.J., and charged him with aggravated manslaughter in the December 20 death of Sister Mary Margaret Hynes of Camden, N.J.

(The death of Sister Peg, as she was known, was mentioned here yesterday. [Ed.: First item.])

According to the Inquirer, local police said Chinchillo “was steering his car with his knees while smoking crack cocaine” when his 2002 Lincoln LS crossed the center lines of Burnt Mill Rd. in Cherry Hill, N.J., careening into the 1997 Kia in which Sister Peg was a passenger.

Chinchillo’s wife, Janice Chinchillo, also was arrested and charged with aggravated manslaughter. Police said she passed the crack pipe to her husband while he was driving. In New Jersey, the charge of aggravated manslaughter carries a maximum 30-year sentence.

“Our investigation is ongoing, and we do anticipate filing additional charges. He manifested an absolute indifference to human life,” said Camden County Prosecutor Vincent Sarubbi.

Sister Peg, who was 69 and a breast cancer survivor, was a member of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart and development director of Heart of Camden Housing Corp., an arm of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in that city. Heart of Camden rehabilitates abandoned houses and sells them at cost to poor families. To date the organization has created housing for 100 Camden families.

In an annual rite, Sister Peg was to deliver holiday food boxes to poor families in the city the day after she was killed.

The Inquirer story did not make clear how Chinchillo, who declared bankruptcy just last year and who at that time said he living on disability and Social Security payments, came into possession of his 2002 Lincoln.

[Post-publication addendum (December 24): I cannot find a web page for Heart of Camden Housing, but the Sacred Heart Church home page can be found here. More information about Sister Peg’s order, the Sisters of St. Joseph, can be found here. And donations in memory of Sister Peg should be sent to the Sisters of St. Joseph, 9701 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, Pa., 19118.]

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