Mummers Killed When Driver With Stab Wounds Slams Car Head-on Into SUV in South Philadelphia, Police Say

A man suffering from what police say could be self-inflicted stab wounds slams his sedan into an SUV, killing two men and a woman, Philadelphia police say

What to Know

  • Three people, including 2 Mummers, died when a car slammed head on into their SUV along Packer Avenue in South Philadelphia early Wednesday.
  • Police later discovered that the sedan driver, Keith Campbell, was stabbed 15 to 20 times and that he may have stabbed himself.
  • South Philly String Band says "family" members died in the crash. Police ID'ed victims as Joseph Ferry, Dennis Palandro and Kelly Wiseley.

Three people, including two members of a Mummers string band fresh off the annual New Year's Day parade, died when a car slammed head on into their SUV in South Philadelphia early Wednesday.

Update: Police say the suspect left a "strange" rambling note in his wrecked car.

Two couples were in the Acura SUV as they drove along Packer Avenue near S. 7th Street around 1:45 a.m. when an Audi sedan crossed the center line and crashed into them head on, Philadelphia police said. The sedan driver had been stabbed at least 15 times. Police worked on the belief that the stab wounds could be self inflicted, accident division Capt. Mark Overwise said at a midday news conference.

The SUV driver Joseph Ferry, 36, of South Philadelphia; his fiancée Kelly Wiseley, 35, of Glenolden, Pennsylvania; and Dennis Palandro, 31, of Morton, Pennsylvania; all died at the scene, Overwise said.

Palandro's 30-year-old wife survived the crash and is being treated at the hospital for a broken pelvis and other injuries, police said.

The 29-year-old sedan driver — identified by police as Keith Campbell — also survived the wreck. He was the only person in that car at the time of the crash. 

Ferry and Palandro were members of the South Philadelphia String Band, a group that performs in Philadelphia's storied and elaborate annual folk parade. The string band, which took home a second-place prize this year, later posted to Facebook that "we are deeply saddened at the loss of our family members."

Ferry's cousin, country music singer Payton Taylor, told NBC10 Ferry was her bass player during her first show.

"Completely woke up to our whole world just being shattered," she said.

Payton said she was excited to return to Philly after hearing about his engagement to Wisely during Christmas.

"Now instead of getting excited and planning a wedding, we're starting to make arrangements for a funeral," she said. "And that's just the hardest. We're all still in shock."

Overwise said a witness described the sedan as traveling at a "high-rate of speed" before the crash. Ferry, who was driving the SUV, was ejected from the vehicle. Wiseley, who was in a relationship with Ferry, was in the front passenger seat while Palandro and his wife were in the backseat. Palandro's father is the captain of the string band.

Campbell, who hails from Bear, Delaware, was listed in critical condition with 15 to 20 stab wounds to his chest and abdomen, police said.

"And, in that sedan vehicle we did find… a knife with a 10-inch blade, approximately, that was covered in blood," Small said.

It appeared that Campbell had stabbed himself but police needed to investigate further.

"It's highly unusual, I've never seen it before," Overwise said.

The crash blocked Packer Avenue, near the stadium complex, for hours Wednesday morning as police investigated all the circumstances around the wreck. Packer Avenue finally reopened just before 8 a.m.

The string band members were headed to the nearby Oregon Diner at the time of the crash.

Police plan to charge Campbell with multiple counts of a crash involving death or bodily injuries. It was unclear if Campbell has an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

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