Quaker Clerk Murdered on Philadelphia Meetinghouse Property

Unity Meetinghouse as photographed by the Historic American Buildings Survey c. 2000. Source.

The clerk of Unity Meeting in the Frankford section of Philadelphia, Pa., was found dead Sunday night in a shed on the property of the historic meetinghouse, according to the Bucks County District Attorney’s office. Carol Clark, 72, suffered fatal gunshot wounds after being drugged with fentanyl and kidnapped, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed by detectives. 

Police charged Clark’s son, Sean Rivera, 28, with criminal homicide, kidnapping, aggravated assault, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, unlawful restraint, reckless endangerment, and possessing an instrument of crime, the affidavit stated.

A Friend who knew Clark through work with Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting described her as dedicated and generous with her time. Clark worked full time as a lawyer but still found time to administer an afterschool program, hold Friday evening meetings for worship, and offer youth cooking classes on Saturdays, according to Hollister Knowlton, who served as clerk of Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting from 2012 to 2019. Clark also served on the board of Frankford Friends School, according to Knowlton.

“I just want people to remember how much she gave of herself to the Frankford community,” Knowlton said.

Rivera’s brother, Adam Clark-Valle, of New York State, called police after Rivera told him conflicting stories about their mother’s whereabouts, according to the affidavit. Rivera first told Clark-Valle their mother had died of an illness, then claimed she was hospitalized due to a heart attack. Clark-Valle drove to the Morrisville, Falls Township home his mother shared with Rivera then looked for her at area hospitals.

After obtaining a warrant, police searched the 505 Berwyn Road home and discovered two Glock 9 mm guns with receipts bearing Rivera’s name. They also found one padlock and an empty padlock package. Police searched a Toyota RAV4 registered to Carol Clark and found a pair of bolt cutters.

According to the affidavit, Rivera told detectives that he had purchased fentanyl, which he mixed with iced tea and gave to Clark, along with a dinner of Chinese takeout on Saturday evening. Between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. Sunday, while Clark was lethargic from the drug, Rivera put her in her wheelchair, pushed her outside to her RAV4, put her in the vehicle, and drove to the Unity Meetinghouse. He pushed her in the wheelchair to the shed, put her inside, and shot her about five times, according to the affidavit.

Rivera told investigators that he had cut the padlocks off the shed and locked it with a new padlock after the killing, the affidavit states. 

Police used a key they found while searching Rivera’s person to open the lock on the shed. They found a dead woman inside covered with a blue tarp, according to the affidavit. Her appearance matched photos of Clark provided by Clark-Valle. Detectives found a spent casing and spent bullet nearby.

Authorities do not have a motive for the alleged murder, according to Manuel Gamiz of the Bucks County District Attorney’s office.

Bucks County Public Defender Lisa Williams is representing Rivera. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 7. Williams did not return a phone call requesting comment on the case.

Authorities placed Rivera in the Bucks County Correctional Facility without bail, according to the district attorney’s office.

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