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Yvonne HILLER

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


Kraft plant shooting
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Hiller believed that her coworkers had been poisoning her for years
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: September 9, 2010
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: January 12, 1967
Victims profile: LaTonya Sharon Brown, 36, and Tanya Renee Wilson, 47 (coworkers)
Method of murder: Shooting (.357 magnum handgun)
Location: Northeast Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Status: Sentenced to two consecutive life terms without parole on September 24, 2012
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Two life sentences for Kraft plant shooter

By Jessica Parker - Philly.com

September 25, 2012

Yvonne Hiller, the Lawncrest woman who shot three coworkers at the Kraft-Nabisco cookie plant in Northeast Philadelphia in 2010, was sentenced Monday to two consecutive life terms without parole.

This month, Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner found Hiller guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of LaTonya Brown, 36, and Tanya Wilson, 47; one count of attempted murder for shooting Bryant Dalton, 41; and several other offenses.

At an emotional hearing Monday, Lerner heard from the victims' relatives and Hiller's niece. Hiller spoke briefly, asking forgiveness of the victims' families and her own.

Dalton said his life "was basically destroyed" on Sept. 9, 2010, when Hiller burst into the employee break room with a gun. Hiller, who Lerner said suffered from a "long, festering mental illness," believed that her coworkers had been poisoning her for years. She argued with them that day and had been escorted by a security guard out of the building, where they mixed ingredients for Kraft snacks.

Terral Brown said her daughter, LaTonya, was scared the day of the shooting. "She told me this woman kept following her around the building. She said, 'Mom, I don't feel safe.' "

Dalton said being shot and watching his friends die had left him fearful and traumatized. "I'm not the same person. I lost a lot of myself. I'm not the father I should be," he said.

Hiller sat quietly in a black Islamic dress and head scarf, appearing stoic. When called upon by the judge, she put on a pair of black-rimmed glasses and read from a statement in a low, steady voice. She apologized and said she knew that she had needed help. "I'm not excusing what I did," she said. "I really thought they were poisoning me."

She said that she had called doctors, therapists and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and that before the shooting, "my life was taken from me by my coworkers." Going to work every day, she said, was "a living hell, subjected to pranks by my coworkers."

Hiller and her family painted a picture of a woman tormented by mental illness that was exacerbated by her coworkers. "Instead of leaving her alone or helping her, they made it worse," one of Hiller's relatives whispered before the hearing.

Hiller waived her right to a jury trial so prosecutors would not seek the death penalty. First-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence. But Lerner said that, to the extent possible, he intended to send a message.

"There's no practical difference between imposing concurring or consecutive punishment," he said. "It's a need I feel to make a symbolic statement of the preciousness of these separate lives that have been lost."

Dalton and Brown's daughters Trachelle, 24, and Tyleesha, 19, said Hiller deserved the death penalty.

"There's never going to be closure," Trachelle Brown said. She recalled on the night of the killing explaining to their 6-year-old brother and 10-year-old sister that their mother was not coming home. She says she worries that their memories will fade over time.

"Hiller can call her kids from jail," Trachelle said. "All I can do is listen to my mom's voice on the answering machine over and over."

 
 

Woman convicted in 2010 Kraft shooting

By Larry Miller - Phillytrib.com

September 10, 2012

The trial for a woman who shot two people to death and wounded a third at the Kraft Food processing facility in 2010 ended with the defendant being found guilty yesterday.

Yvonne Hiller, 43, was charged with murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault and related offenses in connection with the September 9, 2010 incident. Latonya Brown, 36, and Tanya Wilson, 47, were both shot to death following an altercation with Hiller. Bryant Dalton, 39, was wounded. Hiller allegedly had an ongoing dispute with the victims for months, accusing them of spraying her with chemicals and deer urine.

In the one day trial, Court of Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner found Hiller guilty of two counts of first degree murder and one count of attempted murder. She faces an automatic sentence of life in prison.

 
 

Alleged Kraft Foods killer held on all charges

By Julie Shaw - Philly.com

December 8, 2010

As machines whirred in the noisy Kraft Foods plant in Northeast Philadelphia, amid the sweet smell of baked goods, Yvonne Hiller methodically hunted down co-workers with whom she apparently had quarreled and gunned them down, authorities say.

Hiller contended that she suffered from years of "chemical abuse" and that her co-workers had sprayed her with chemicals and deer urine, according to her statement to police, read in court at her preliminary hearing yesterday.

The "mental roller coaster" of abuse led her to kill co-workers LaTonya Brown, 36, and Tanya Wilson, 47, and to fire at another co-worker, Bryant Dalton, 39, wounding him, according to her statement.

Municipal Judge David Shuter held Hiller, 43, of Crescentville, for trial on all charges, including murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault and related offenses in the Sept. 9 workplace shooting that shocked the city.

"I told them I was tired of the spraying," Hiller said she told Dalton and Brown earlier that day. They said they didn't know what she was talking about, Hiller said.

"I told them, 'You think this is a prank, but you don't know what it's doing to my body.' "

In her statement, she said she had summoned police to her house a "lot of times, all for the smell" and had sought counseling.

Later that workday, Hiller said she was called into her supervisor's office and was escorted out of the building, at Roosevelt Boulevard and Byberry Road.

"I took it as I was being fired," she said. Authorities have said that she was suspended that night.

After she got to her car, where she had her licensed .357 Magnum, "I kept on thinking about the 15 years I was there and how it was taken away from me," she said in her statement, read by Homicide Detective Dominic Mangoni.

She said she grabbed her gun.

Marc Bentley, a Kraft security guard, testified that Hiller pointed the gun at his face.

"She just told me to open up the doors," Bentley said. An unarmed Bentley said he "hit the ground" in his security booth, hit the switch to open the door, then called 9-1-1 on his cell phone.

Inside the building, Hiller fired a shot at one person, but missed, according to her statement. She then went into a break room, where she saw four people, including Brown, Wilson and Dalton. She told one woman to get out and then fired at the three others, killing Brown and Wilson, and wounding Dalton.

She said she then fired a shot at her plant manager and then noticed a "skinny white guy," a mechanic, following her, and fired a shot at him. Both shots missed.

Police Officer Michael Murphy testified that he was one of the officers who responded to the shooting about 9 that night. He recalled seeing Kraft workers rushing out of the building crying. In a hallway, he heard a gunshot, and a bullet whizzed above his left shoulder, then hit a wall.

Sitting at the defense table yesterday, Hiller, wearing a black Muslim headscarf, dabbed tears from her eyes with a tissue as her statement was read, but did not show any emotion during Bentley's or Murphy's testimonies.

Wendy Ramos, one of Hiller's two public defenders, argued that Hiller had said in her statement that she had not fired at police.

Prosecutor Gail Fairman, however, said that Hiller admitted firing seven shots. Hiller mentioned firing at six people in her statement. The seventh target, not mentioned because of the "stigma" in shooting at police, was the officer, Fairman argued.

Hiller said in her statement that she had been suspended twice before at Kraft - once in 2002, and again in August.

"I hope they never let her out," Dorothy Brown, Brown's grandmother, said of Hiller after the hearing. "She broke my family apart."

Stephen Devine, of Kenneth R. Schuster & Associates, said he and other attorneys were looking into the possibility of filing civil lawsuits, on behalf of Brown's and Wilson's families.

He said there will be a vigil at 8:30 p.m. tomorrow at 11th and Poplar streets, where Brown lived, to mark three months since the incident.

 
 

Before Kraft shooting rampage, growing alarm over suspect's behavior

By Troy Graham, Mike Newall, and Michael Brocker - Philly.com

September 11, 2010

After her shooting rampage, Yvonne Hiller called 911 and explained that she was fed up with what - in her mind - had been years of constant harassment from coworkers and neighbors.

She was plagued, mostly, by the idea that she was being sprayed with toxins and deer scent, certain that the smell was so strong in her immaculate Lawncrest home that no one would even park in front.

At her job in the sprawling Kraft Foods plant in Northeast Philadelphia, she clashed repeatedly with coworkers, who viewed her behavior with increasing alarm.

On Thursday night, near the end of her shift, Hiller's simmering anger boiled over once more, when she was waiting with a group of factory workers to take an annual hearing test, police sources said.

Three coworkers felt threatened enough to see the supervisor, who listened to both sides and decided to suspend Hiller - for the second time in recent years, sources said.

"She was known as the problem child," said Fred Capps, a 21-year employee and an acting shop steward. "It's always everybody's fault but Yvonne's."

Hiller, an employee for 15 years, who worked as a helper on the dough-mixing floor, was escorted off the property about 8:30. She got in her car and, moments later, returned to the gated back entrance to the plant, at Roosevelt Boulevard and Byberry Road.

She was armed with the .357 Magnum she legally bought in March and carried in her car. She pointed the gun at the two unarmed security guards and ordered them to open the gate.

Hiller, 43, the divorced mother of an adult son, returned to the third floor of the plant. She found the three coworkers in a break room with a fourth employee.

"The one she didn't have a problem with, she told, 'Get out,' and then she started firing," said Capt. James Clark, commander of the Homicide Unit.

LaTonya Brown, 36, a dough mixer, was shot in the head; Tanya Wilson, 47, also a dough mixer, was hit in the side. Both Philadelphia women died at the scene, Clark said.

The third victim, Bryant Dalton, 39, was hit in the neck. He was in critical condition Friday at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

During the initial confrontation, Capps said, Hiller was screaming at the three, leaving them shaken. She told Dalton, "I'm going to take you out," Capps said.

While they gave statements to the supervisor, Capps sat with them, Hiller storming into the room twice to interrupt. Then came Hiller's turn.

"It wasn't a statement," Capps said. "It was a rant. About 9/11, about Muslims, about how people have been spraying her with chemicals for years, spraying her car, her house."

He recalled her saying, "You don't know what these chemicals are doing to me."

Brown's mother, Terral, said she had spoken to her daughter Thursday night after the dispute with Hiller for about a half-hour. Her daughter said, "There have been multiple complaints about this woman."

"My daughter told me that she was scared because of Hiller, and that this girl was crazy," Terral Brown said. " 'I don't feel safe today, Mom,' she said. 'I'm scared.'"

Her daughter, who had four children, ended the call abruptly about 7:30, promising to call back.

"That was the last thing I heard from her," Terral Brown said.

After shooting her coworkers, Hiller sought out and fired a shot at her supervisor, police said. She also fired at another employee - described as either a mechanic or maintenance man - who was following her through the building, warning employees to flee and talking to police on his cell phone.

Hiller missed both targets.

Police officials praised the mechanic's cool head and bravery, saying he saved countless lives. They did not give his name, and his union president also refused to identify him. Capps knew only his first name, Dave.

"Dave's the hero," he said.

Hiller made her way to the second floor and barricaded herself in a cinderblock laboratory - the quality control area - in the middle of a huge factory space.

The first responding officers, from the Seventh and Eighth Districts, were directed to the laboratory by Dave the mechanic.

"We would have had to search a very large and complex facility," said Chief Inspector Joseph Sullivan. "He saved lives, saved time."

Hiller may have fired a shot through the wall at those first officers, who backed off as a SWAT team arrived, Sullivan said.

Seven employees also were in the lab, hiding in a side room that Sullivan likened to a closet. "They had the presence of mind to turn off the lights and crouch down," he said. None was harmed.

Hiller, meanwhile, made several calls, including to her former father-in-law and mother-in-law, sources said. Then she called 911, and a supervisor, Cpl. Janice Leader, got on the line.

Hiller sounded "exhausted, like a weight had been lifted off her," Leader said.

"She told me to say goodbye to her son," she recounted. "I said, 'You'll see your son tomorrow.' . . . I just didn't want her to hurt anyone else."

After about 40 minutes, Hiller said she saw the lab door opening. Leader, who had been communicating with the SWAT team, knew the officers were entering.

She told Hiller to put the gun on the floor and put her hands on her head - and Hiller complied. She was arrested about 9:30.

The gun was empty. Although Hiller had more ammunition, she had not reloaded.

Hiller gave a statement to homicide detectives reiterating that she was being sprayed with toxins and saying she had proof that her home was contaminated, sources said.

She also told detectives that she had been treated for mental illness, sources said. She told Leader that she took medication, though she did not specify what kind.

Hiller said she was certain she was going to be fired, and showed little emotion other than frustration, sources said.

She has been charged with two counts of murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault, and other offenses.

The Kraft Foods plant, for many years known as the Nabisco factory, was closed Friday "until further notice," the company said. Kraft makes Ritz crackers, Lorna Doone cookies, and other baked goods there.

Employees who worked earlier in the week will be paid their full 40 hours, the company said.

"This is a heartbreaking time for the Kraft Foods family," said Joyce Hodel of Kraft Foods corporate affairs.

In a statement, she described Hiller as becoming agitated and using profanity Thursday night, and said Hiller's company ID had been confiscated when she was escorted off the property.

Hodel acknowledged that "from time to time, [Hiller] had run-ins with others. However, we don't believe she had a history of violent behavior."

Although Hiller did not have a criminal history, Clark said, she had at least one previous physical confrontation with an employee.

Hodel said she could not discuss Hiller's employee history further due to privacy concerns.

"The safety of our employees is our first priority," she said. "Our immediate goal is to provide support for our employees, to fully understand what happened, and take appropriate action to prevent it from occurring again."

Brown's mother blamed the company.

"What kind of security is this," she asked, "and why was this woman still at work after all these complaints?"

Nearly 500 people work at the plant. About 100 employees were there when the shooting occurred.

Union leader John Lazar praised the company, the working conditions, and the labor relations. "It's a good, blue-collar union job," he said, "and they are rare right now."

He declined to discuss employee concerns about Hiller or the company's response.

The rampage was the deadliest workplace killing in Philadelphia since February 2007, when a disgruntled investor armed with two handguns killed three businessmen and wounded a fourth in a conference room at the Naval Business Center in South Philadelphia. The gunman later killed himself.

 
 

Brewing for years, rage turned deadly at Kraft building

By Dana DiFilippo, Julie Shaw, Christine Olley & Valerie Russ - Philly.com

September 11, 2010

YVONNE HILLER didn't like LaTonya Brown and Tanya Wilson.

The three worked in the third-floor mixing room at the Kraft Foods plant on Roosevelt Boulevard near Byberry Road in Northeast Philadelphia. Hiller had fought with Brown and Wilson - verbally and physically - for at least two years, accusing them of throwing chemicals at her and talking behind her back.

Thursday night was the latest fight. It led to Hiller's supervisor booting her out of the plant with a suspension. But Hiller refused to go quietly, police said.

The 43-year-old Crescentville woman went to her car, where she kept a .357-caliber Magnum handgun. She returned, pointed it at two unarmed security guards and demanded re-entry, police said.

She then beelined to the third floor, where she found Brown, 36, Wilson, 47, and two other co-workers in a break room.

She instructed one to leave, saying she had no quarrel with her. Then, according to police, she began blasting away.

She allegedly shot Brown once in the head at close range and Wilson in the side. And she allegedly shot Bryant Dalton, 39, who'd also been involved in the earlier argument, in the neck.

She then hunted down her supervisor in a third-floor hallway and allegedly fired at him but missed.

She also allegedly fired at and missed a heroic Kraft mechanic who followed Hiller, shouting at co-workers to flee and reporting her movements on a cell phone to a 9-1-1 operator and on his walkie-talkie to other employees.

She also fired once at the first officers on the scene, Homicide Capt. James Clark said.

Hiller then hid in a darkened, second-floor office and called 9-1-1, unaware that seven co-workers had cowered in fear in an adjoining room.

" 'I'm the person you're looking for at the Kraft Nabisco building,' " Hiller said to a dispatcher, according to Cpl. Janice Leader.

Leader, a 9-1-1 supervisor, then got on the phone. " 'So, now you want to help me?' " an agitated Hiller said, according to Leader. " 'Now you want to help me?' "

Leader said she spent about 40 minutes on the phone and told Hiller that police were on their way to the room. "I told her, 'Put the gun down. Put the gun down. And put your hands on top of your head so they'll know you're not being aggressive to them,' " Leader said.

SWAT officers stormed the building, apprehended Hiller and freed the hiding co-workers at 9:36 p.m., about 40 minutes after the shooting rampage began.

Paramedics declared Brown, of Poplar Street near 11th in North Philly, and Wilson, of 10th Street near Erie Avenue in Hunting Park, dead at the scene. Dalton was in good condition last night at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

Hiller, who didn't have a criminal record and lived by herself in a two-story brick rowhouse with a tidy lawn and porch on Carver Street near Tabor Avenue, is being held without bail on murder and related charges. Neighbors said she has a son in his 20s.

Some neighbors described her as a hypochondriac who worried about a smell in her house and often called 9-1-1. She had a security camera mounted outside.

Hiller, a 15-year Kraft employee, who had worked in the mixing room for six years, allegedly also complained to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration about her work. An OSHA form, dated Nov. 23, 2009, said a Kraft Foods employee complained about "being harassed by various other employees working in the same area" and alleged "being sprayed with chemicals and even deer urine" at work.

Kraft, in a Dec. 3, 2009, letter to OSHA, said it had received complaints by a mixing-room employee alleging "exposure to a variety of chemicals." The company said it had offered to test the employee's clothing and offered "additional medical review," but she refused. It said it did not find evidence of the employee's claims.

A Kraft spokeswoman said by e-mail last night that Hiller later claimed she made the anonymous complaint.

Next-door neighbors of Hiller yesterday described a time when she threatened violence. Dierr Rowland, 12, recalled playing his radio loudly one afternoon last year. Hiller came to his home "screaming at us," the boy said.

Tonine Rowland, 35, Dierr's mother, said after she and a friend argued with Hiller, Hiller tried to get into her home, and Rowland's friend kicked open the screen door, hitting Hiller. Hiller returned with a metal bat and banged on the screen door.

"Bitch, come out," Hiller yelled to Rowland's friend, Rowland said. Hiller returned home and called 9-1-1, but the police who responded didn't issue any citations, Rowland said.

"I think they were really tired of her. She would just call the police randomly, same as the Fire Department," Rowland said. "She would say she just smelled smoke."

Rowland said Hiller "was always angry" and "would always seem stressed" and was a "hypochondriac." Referring to Hiller's security camera, Rowland said Hiller "swore the neighbors let their dogs pee" on her front lawn.

Another neighbor, 45, recalled how Hiller was always worried about a smell in her house. The woman, who did not want to give her name, said she went to Hiller's "so clean, so immaculate" house three years ago and smelled something, but didn't know what it was. Hiller said she thought the smell was in her wall, this woman said.

Hiller complained that she was afraid some neighbors were "trying to hurt her," the woman said. "It got to the point where it started to scare me. Like something was wrong with her mentally."

George Harris, 45, said Hiller was a friendly person and he was "shocked" to hear of the shooting. Hiller expressed interest in purchasing a pup from his pregnant Presa Canario dog, he said. "I was telling her the dog's good protection for her home," he said.

Clark, the homicide captain, said Hiller legally owned her gun and had a permit to carry. When she went to get the gun Thursday night, she called a male friend to complain she'd had enough of the harassment and would shoot her tormentors. Her friend called 9-1-1, Clark said.

Meanwhile, Wilson's and Brown's families yesterday mourned their loved ones. "It was Kraft's fault LaTonya is dead," said Jenine Harris, Brown's best friend. "There was a history of problems with this lady."

Brown's mother, Robin, said she spoke with her daughter about an hour before the shooting and her daughter told her she had a meeting with her supervisors regarding Hiller.

Robin said her daughter, who had four children, ages 6 to 22, told her: "I'm scared. I don't feel safe here."

Wilson's family was equally stunned by the tragedy.

"When a person is as sweet and kind as she was, you're always going to miss that," said Julia Norris, Wilson's mother-in-law. "What you have left are all the sweet memories. You just have to go by that."

 
 

Police Say Yvonne Hiller Killed Two At Oreo Cookie Plant After Being Suspended

NewsOne.com

September 10, 2010

PHILADELPHIA A Kraft Foods plant worker was suspended from her job because she was feuding with colleagues, then returned minutes later with a handgun and fatally shot two of them and critically wounded a third, police said Friday.

Yvonne Hiller, 43, was escorted from the plant after being told of the suspension about 8:30 p.m. Thursday. But she returned from her vehicle with a .357 magnum, threatened a guard with her gun to get past security, and made her way to the third floor, where she found her victims in a break room, police said.

Hiller told one woman she was free to leave, then fired just three shots, one at each victim, Homicide Capt. James Clark said.

Hiller had been involved in a series of arguments and a few physical altercations in recent years in the mixing area where she worked, police said.

After leaving the break room, Hiller went down a hallway and fired shots at the supervisor who had suspended her along with an employee who was using a walkie-talkie to alert police and co-workers to her whereabouts, police said. She missed both of them.

Hiller then went to a second-floor office, where she called police to tell them what she had done. She had put her gun down by the time officers found her there, Clark said.

The victims were identified as Tanya Renee Wilson, 47; Latonya Sharon Brown, 36; and Bryant A. Dalton; 39, all of Philadelphia. Wilson and Brown died at the plant.

Dalton, shot in the neck, was in critical condition at Jefferson University Hospital, police said.

Hiller was charged with two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, aggravated assault and other charges. She had a permit to carry the gun, authorities said.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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