BERLIN – A Berlin native and long-time Ocean City hotel and restaurant employee was murdered last week in Philadelphia, tragically gunned down by his step-son in a dispute about who did what around the house.
Orphus Land, 47, who was born and raised in Berlin and attended Stephen Decatur High School, was shot to death in his suburban Philadelphia home on Feb. 25 by the 33-year-old son of a woman he married on the beach in Ocean City six months ago. Land worked at the Plim Plaza Hotel and the Jonah and the Whale restaurant in the resort for several years, according to his brother Ivory Smith, before getting married to Tina Miller on the beach last August and moving to Glyndon in the Darby township of Pennsylvania.
According to police reports on the incident, Tyrone Miller, 33, shot Land an undetermined number of times at close range following an argument. Miller told police Land was fixing a broken storm door, and as he passed by him, Land said, “I’m the only man in this house who can fix things,” according to police reports.
Miller continued on his way when Land followed him to his second-floor bedroom, blocked Miller from closing the door with his foot, entered the room and shoved Miller down. Miller told police he felt threatened by Land and retrieved a handgun from under his pillow, loaded it and pointed it at Land. Miller told police Land said, “Oh look, he’s got a gun,” according to police reports.
Miller told police he then fired the gun an unknown number of times at his stepfather, who stumbled out of the bedroom and fell to the floor in the hallway. Miller told police he then unloaded the gun, took it to the first floor and placed it on the dining room table. Shortly before 6 p.m. on Feb. 25, Darby Township Police arrived at the residence and first-arriving officers noticed the gun on the dining room table along with the empty magazine on a chair.
Smith said this week the victim has two children, a son and a daughter who live in Snow Hill, along with three grandchildren. In addition to Smith, Land has a sister, Javonn, in Whaleyville and a brother, Patrick, in Salisbury.
“Everybody’s hanging in there the best they can,” he said. “It’s just so sad and tragic. The whole thing happened over something that seems so stupid.”
Smith fondly remembered his brother, whom he said enjoyed working and living in and around the resort area. Land also worked for a time at the Head Start program in Berlin as a maintenance man and enjoyed being around the children.
“He loved to fish and he loved to cook,” said Smith. “He also loved being around those kids. I think that’s what he loved the most.”
A trust fund has been established for Land’s children at the Bank of Ocean City branch in Berlin. In the meantime, Miller is in custody facing murder charges.