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Family: Reading stabbing victim was a gentle, kind man

Family: Reading stabbing victim was a gentle, kind man

PHILADELPHIA - One week after a Reading man was stabbed to death in center city, his family is speaking out.

Tears rolled down Samantha Sanders' cheeks as she spoke fondly of her uncle, Joseph Ashford, who was killed in broad daylight last Thursday.

"I'm really sorry I didn't get a chance to say goodbye," said Sanders, who called her uncle a gentle and kind man who had a smile that could light up a room. "I'm going to miss the pop-up visits because you never know when he was coming to town."

Ashford, 48, grew up in Philadelphia, but he moved to Reading more than 20 years ago.

His life came to a tragic end last Thursday when he was stabbed near 5th and Penn streets, said police. 

Ashford's accused killer, Raymond Searles, was arrested near the scene. He later confessed to the crime to 69 News.

"Why did you stab the victim?" 69 News asked.

"Because he tried to kill me in a bar," admitted Searles.

According to police, the argument started at Maria's Restaurant in the 400 block of Penn Street. Searles, 42, was reportedly kicked out, but he told 69 News he waited outside for Ashford.

"I was heated. He was heated," said Searles.

"You waited for him to come out? I don't see that as a threat. If you felt threatened, then you should have left," said Sanders, of Searles' statement.

Sanders said she is only left with her uncle's three rings and a watch. Now, the family's immediate concern is how to afford a proper burial for Ashford.


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