- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 13, 2016

ASTON, Pa. (AP) - Now that the elusive suspect in the fatal shooting of her husband during a robbery that netted less than $20 and a cellphone is behind bars, another waiting game has begun for Ginger Stevenson Childs and her family.

It’s been 18 months since the body of 63-year-old Thomas “Chilly” Childs was found at Ridgway Industries in Yeadon, where he was employed as a truck driver. On Friday, police apprehended suspect Rodney Shelton in Decatur, Ga., in the company of a woman inside an apartment. Details regarding the apprehension by U.S. Marshals are sketchy, but Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said Saturday that Shelton may have tried to hide in a closet in an attempt to avoid arrest.

“Until he is definitely convicted, I’m going to be a nervous wreck,” Childs’ widow said Saturday night.

She is hoping that evidence against Shelton is enough that he would plead guilty, avoiding a trial.

If not, she’s already asked Whelan to keep her abreast of all court dates.

Lead investigators in the homicide case, Detective Joseph “Jay” Houghton of the Yeadon Police Department and Detective Michael Jay of the Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division, were scheduled to fly to Georgia to try to interview Shelton, as well as the woman in the apartment.

A warrant for Shelton’s arrest in the June 9, 2015, murder of Childs was announced back in June by Whelan, Yeadon Police Chief Donald Molineux and Special Agent in Charge Sam Rabadi of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. At the time, Shelton was described as a twice-convicted felon.

It was agents from ATF who were instrumental in tracking the alleged murder weapon. And his capture made good on a promise Rabadi made to Shelton back in June: “We will find you.”

Shelton is being held at the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office facility in Decatur, according to online inmate records.

Mrs. Childs was at work when Houghton called her Friday with the news of Shelton’s apprehension. Houghton described it as “an emotional” exchange.

When the phone call ended, Mrs. Childs said, “I just sobbed.”

As news spread, family and friends took to Facebook to share their support for Mrs. Childs and her family. By late Sunday afternoon, she had received more than 200 responses.

“It means the world to me that I have the love and support of so many people. Knowing that will help me get through the next few months,” Mrs. Childs posted Saturday night.

Both Mrs. Childs and her sister-in-law, Sharon Conroy, said Shelton’s arrest was long in coming.

Mrs. Childs stopped short of describing herself as being “happy,” though she said the news brought great relief, as well as satisfaction that justice for her husband was in sight.

“It’s hard to explain my feelings,” Mrs. Childs said during a phone conversation Saturday, noting that emotions have run the gamut over the last 18 months.

She’s prayed for resolution.

“I wanted some closure, some help,” she said.

It was about 3:51 a.m. on June 9, 2015, when Yeadon police responded to a report of a suspicious individual at the industrial complex, located at 6250 Baltimore Ave. When police arrived, they discovered Childs’ body in the loading dock, lying next to his truck, loaded for a delivery to New York. Childs was declared dead at the scene. The Delaware County Medical Examiner later ruled his death a homicide due to a single penetrating gunshot wound of the back.

Authorities said his killer fled the business complex with about $20, as well as Childs’ company-issued cellphone. Authorities believe Childs was killed between 3:30-3:40 a.m.

Shelton - a resident of North Carolina who was known to frequent Philadelphia and Atlanta - was a suspect early on, Whelan said back in June.

Hours after Childs’ body was discovered, a ping from his stolen phone led investigators to nearby Fernwood Cemetery. There, a 9-mm High Point handgun was found on the roof of a mausoleum, and the missing cellphone and loose currency were recovered on the ground, adjacent to cemetery fencing directly across the street from the industrial park entrance. Investigators determined that the recovered gun was registered to a North Carolina woman. They also determined that two 9-mm cartridge casings recovered from the crime scene were discharged by the High Point handgun.

In October, when investigators traveled to North Carolina to interview the gun owner, she told them she purchased the firearm in May 2015, but then gave the gun to her friend, whom she identified as Shelton, according to the probable cause affidavit support the warrant for Shelton’s arrest.

Through investigation, detectives determined that Shelton traveled on June 6, 2015, from Hampton, Va., to Philadelphia by Mega bus and left the area by bus the day after Childs’ murder. Shelton’s phone records show on June 9 a 13-minute phone call made from his number at about 3 a.m. was pinging off a tower in Philadelphia at the start of the call, and pinging off a tower in the Yeadon industrial park at the end of the call.

Shelton was on the phone with a woman from Philadelphia with whom he shares a child. When that woman was interviewed in April, she said Shelton came to her home on or around June 8, 2015. She told investigators she found a handgun and when she confronted Shelton about it, he indicated a female friend gave it to him to sell and they would split the profit. An argument ensued over the gun between the woman and Shelton, and Shelton left the residence with the gun, the affidavit states.

Shelton called that woman early on June 9 and asked if he could come to her home, which she allowed, the affidavit states. When he arrived, he was “sweating heavily and appeared nervous,” the affidavit states.

That same woman told investigators she traveled to North Carolina in April, after Shelton said he needed to talk to her in person about something important and sent her a bus ticket.

According to the affidavit, Shelton tearfully admitted to her that he shot a man during a robbery because the victim “began to resist.” The woman said Shelton told her he couldn’t provide many details because he was “high at the time of the shooting,” the affidavit states.

Shelton reportedly confided to the woman that he fled to Virginia because he feared police were after him.

Mrs. Childs said her husband, a veteran truck driver, didn’t call out sick once in 10 years.

“He needed a knee replacement, but he just kept going,” she said.

Mrs. Childs’ grandchildren were visiting Saturday night. Nothing made her husband happier than spending time with family, especially the younger members.

“This just hasn’t been devastating to me and my children, but my grandkids have suffered through this also. The four older kids understand what happened and it has taken an effect on them. It really traumatized them, still, The two little ones will never remember him,” Mrs. Childs wrote in a late-night text message. “We all loved him and his life should have never ended this way.”

And their grandfather, through marriage but even more so through his heart, returned that love unconditionally.

“He treated my children like his own. There was no ‘step’ father,” Mrs. Childs wrote.

Back on Nov. 10, Mrs. Childs welcomed her first great-grandchild, a beautiful girl name Ariel.

“We have a great-grandchild and he wasn’t here,” Mrs. Childs said of her beloved Tom. “It stinks.”

According to Molineux, the investigation remains active, including whether any charges regarding the harboring a fugitive were warranted.

Charges lodged against Shelton include first-, second- and third-degree murder, as well as robbery and related firearms offenses.

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Online:

https://bit.ly/2hF68L9

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Information from: Delaware County Daily Times, https://www.delcotimes.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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