A Philadelphia homicide detective already under investigation for allegedly covering up evidence of a murder is being investigated for his role in two other murder cases and the case of a man's disappearance, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said Wednesday.
Detective Ron Dove, a 16-year veteran, was removed from street work earlier this month amid allegations that he helped his girlfriend, Erica Sanchez, leave the state after she was suspected of stabbing her ex-boyfriend to death in North Philadelphia in September.
Internal Affairs is now trying to determine whether Dove used his role as lead detective in a 2010 case to stifle the murder investigation of a 45-year-old woman shot through the heart at an Olney bar owned by Sanchez's father, police said.
Police are also investigating whether Dove concealed information in a North Philadelphia woman's 2012 shooting death and her friend's disappearance.
Investigators believe those cases have a connection to Sanchez as well, Ramsey said.
"Our homicide unit, Internal Affairs, and the District Attorney's Office are all working closely together on this," Ramsey said in an interview. "Wherever it takes us, it takes us. Whatever we have to do, we'll do. We're not going to leave any stone unturned."
The department does not yet know the full extent of Dove's involvement in the cases, Ramsey said.
"At this point, I don't have enough to accuse him of anything," Ramsey said. "But if there is any misconduct uncovered, I will push it as far as it has to go."
Dove, 41, who has been working homicides since 2005, did not return a phone message Wednesday. Efforts to reach his lawyer were unsuccessful.
Dove has told investigators that he is in love with Sanchez but broke no laws to help her.
Investigators have searched Dove's Northeast Philadelphia apartment and confiscated his cellphones and computers.
Ramsey said he had not requested assistance from the FBI or the state Attorney General's Office, but did not rule out the possibility.
Police became aware of Dove's connection to Sanchez in September, days after she allegedly stabbed her ex-boyfriend Cesar Vera, 32, in the chest during an argument near Fifth and Westmoreland Streets.
Dove told the detective that he knew Sanchez and could bring her in for an interview, sources have told The Inquirer. He also asked the detective to "go easy on her," the sources said.
In his statement to Internal Affairs, Dove said that he and Sanchez had been dating for five years and were engaged to be married.
He said that he left work early on the night of Vera's killing to move Sanchez's car from the crime scene, but that he did not know at the time that Vera had been killed.
He did not remember where he moved the car, he said. Police have yet to recover the vehicle.
In that initial interview, Dove told investigators he did not know where they could find Sanchez, but his phone and credit card records showed that he had driven Sanchez to a hotel in Upstate New York and paid for a room for her to stay, the sources said.
Sanchez turned herself in to Internal Affairs last week and was charged with murder.
Ramsey said Dove had been using vacation time and had not reported to work since being placed on desk duty.
Three years before Vera's death, Dove was the detective assigned to the killing of Leslie Delzingaro, 45, of Dresher. She was shot to death in July 2010 at J.J.'s Lounge at Second and Duncannon Streets.
Delzingaro, a mother of two teenage sons, was at the bar for her job selling decorative lighting when a gunman burst through the door and opened fire on two men sitting at a nearby table. Delzingaro was killed when a bullet pierced her heart.
At the bar Wednesday, Erica Sanchez's uncle, Jose Sanchez, said he and Erica's father, Humberto Sanchez, owned the bar. He said he did not know Dove and had no information on the probe into Delzingaro's killing.
Delzingaro's family memebers say they did not know of Dove's connection to the Sanchez family when they repeatedly tried to reach him after their daughter was killed.