Former C&F dean’s granddaughter slain

Courtney Scrib

PHILADELPHIA – Claire Elizabeth Clay, the 25-year-old granddaughter of Commerce and Finance Dean Emeritus Al Clay, was found slain on the night of Sept. 8 in Fairmount Park. She is survived by her parents, Emily Clay Pinto and John Pinto, and five siblings.

On Tuesday, Philadelphia police charged Benjamin Cooper, 19, a friend of the aspiring singer and songwriter, with her murder. In a statement, Cooper later admitted to killing her. According to the Philadelphia Police Department, Cooper and Clay met and became friendly through the music business.

According to published reports, the two friends had an argument, after which Cooper strangled Clay, dumped her body behind a park trash container and set the corpse on fire.

Before performing as a backup singer in city nightclubs, Clay taught grade school at Most Blessed Sacrament School in West Philadelphia and at St. Malachy School in North Philadelphia. She was also devoted to working with the inner-city poor. In one of her journal entries, Clay inscribed a verse from Hebrews 12:15, “See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble. Strive for peace with everyone and for that holiness without which no one would see the Lord.”

A funeral Mass was held on Wednesday afternoon at St. Anastasia Church.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Lawrence McDermott IV Fund, c/o Pitcairn Trust Company, 165 Township Line Road, Suite 3000, Jenkintown, Pa. 19046.