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June 13, 2022

Suspect charged with killing of Francis Decero in South Philly

The 25-year-old had been reported missing in late April and his body was found the following week

Investigations Homicides
Francis Decero Suspect Charged Source/Philadelphia Police

Francis Decero, above, was found dead in South Philly on May 4. He had been beaten and shot three times police said. Joseph Rodriguez, 22, have been charged with homicide in connection with Decero's death.

More than a month after the body of 25-year-old Francis Decero was found in South Philly, a man has been charged in connection his mysterious death.

Joseph Rodriguez, 22, was charged Monday with homicide, conspiracy, abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and other crimes stemming from the investigation, police said. No information has been about Rodriguez's alleged motive in the killing has been released by authorities.

Decero was last seen alive on April 26 before he left his home around midnight. His family later found his car along the 2800 block of South 13th Street, but Decero was nowhere to be found. In the week that followed, family and friends posted flyers and shared information online to try to locate the missing man.

On the afternoon of May 4, 17th District police officers were flagged down by a group of juveniles near 31st and Tasker streets, on the edge of of the Grays Ferry neighborhood. They said a man's body was lying next to bushes on Douglas Street, near the 1700 block of Vare Avenue. The man was identified as Decero.

A preliminary autopsy on May 5 determined Decero was shot times. Two bullets caused graze wounds, one to the left side of his face and the other to his elbow; a gunshot to the back proved to be fatal, investigators said. Authorities also told FOX29 that Decero had been beaten, stabbed and partially burned.

Surveillance footage from around the time Decero disappeared, showed Decero near 13th and Bigler streets. Police said Decero was seen in the recording  double-parking his car, walking down the street and getting into another vehicle that left the area.

Joseph Rodriguez MugSource/PPD

Joseph Rodriguez

In the days after Decero's disappearance, there was speculation he may have been targeted after winning money playing the Pennsylvania Lottery. A public list of Pennsylvania Lottery winners in April 2022 shows a "Francis D" winning $1 million in scratch-off game, but a lottery spokesperson said the lottery winner is a different person. 

"There are no winning claims in the Pennsylvania Lottery’s system for a person named Francis, or 'Frank,' Decero," a lottery spokesperson said. "Some reporters have cited a $1 million Scratch-Off prize – won on the game, $1,000,000 Extreme Green – as having been claimed by a person with this name. However, our records indicate those reports are incorrect and the claimant for this prize is not named Decero."

Rodriguez was arraigned Monday morning and has a preliminary hearing scheduled for June 28.