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STEAK KNIFE STABBING: Mahaffey man dies after domestic dispute; companion charged

MAHAFFEY — A man is dead and his girlfriend is in Clearfield County Jail without bond after she allegedly stabbed him with a steak knife after a domestic dispute early Sunday morning.

Richard Allen Bennett, 57, of 10882 Ridge Rd. in Mahaffey, Bell Township, was found dead by Punxsutawney-based State Police face-down in the snow about 30 feet from his residence wearing only a long sleeve thermal shirt and white brief-style underwear.

In the affidavit of probable cause filed at District Judge Jim Glass’ office in Houtzdale, police said Bennett had likely been laying in the yard for about 24 hours before Clearfield County Acting Coroner Kim Shaffer-Snyder pronounced him deceased at 1:44 a.m. on Monday.

Shaffer-Snyder said an autopsy on Bennett is scheduled Wednesday in Huntingdon.

“I will have more information (on the cause of death) after (the autopsy),” Shaffer-Snyder said.

Police arrived on scene Sunday evening around 11:43 p.m. after receiving a call from Lee trying to locate Bennett. It was reported that Bennett had last been seen on Sunday around 1 a.m. when he allegedly fled his residence following a domestic dispute with Kayce Marie Lee, 31, of the same address.

It was reported that Lee may have stabbed Bennett prior to him leaving the house in an unknown direction.

Police read Lee her Miranda rights and upon interviewing her, Lee admitted that she had stabbed Bennett during a domestic dispute. Lee said that on Saturday, she and Lee and their daughter returned between 8 and 9 p.m. from doing shopping in Clearfield. She said they sat around the kitchen drinking “and having a good time” until Lee fell asleep in a chair in the living room.

Lee said Bennett woke up between 12:30 and 1 a.m. and “was a totally different person” and could tell by the look in his eyes that Bennett was agitated. Lee told police he began arguing with her because their daughter was not in bed yet and tried pulling the child away from Lee. She told police she resisted, which led to Bennett allegedly slapping her in the head and they began yelling obscenities at each other.

The couple then went into the kitchen where Lee told the victim she was going to call for help and she was leaving. This angered the victim again, and Lee said he slapped her in the head. She was unable to find her phone and victim proceeded to block the front door so she could not leave. He then allegedly pushed Lee backward and punch her again the face.

Lee said she retrieved a knife from the block on the counter and intended to scare him so he would let her leave the house. He continued to block the door and then hit her across the face, causing her glasses to fly off her face and her dentures to fly out of her mouth.

Lee said she then made stabbing motions with the knife, and said she wasn’t sure where she stabbed the victim, but by the time she retrieved her glasses and dentures, Bennett had left the residence.

Lee said she looked out the door and yelled for the victim, but he didn’t answer and she didn’t see him anywhere around. She feared Bennett would return with a gun or other weapon, so Lee took her daughter and went to her grandmother’s home where she dropped off her daughter, returned to the home, looked both inside and outside for Bennett. Not finding him, Lee returned to her grandmother’s where she spent the night.

On Sunday morning, she awoke and began calling around to family members to see if anyone had seen Bennett. With no success, Lee returned to the residence around 6 p.m. on Sunday and still unable to locate Bennett. She stayed there to clean up the victim’s blood on the floor before returning to her grandmother’s home and calling family, the hospital, and 911 asking for help in locating Bennett.

Police confronted Lee with the fact that Bennett had only walked about 30 feet from the residence before collapsing and dying. Lee said she never saw Bennett lying between the swing set and driveway even though she would have driven Past the body on at least three occasions.

When police confronted her with the fact that Bennett was struck directly in the chest, Lee conceded that she had stabbed Bennett “a little harder than she had originally alluded to.”

Lee was examined for any visible injuries by police, and none were found.

Police also interviewed Larry D. and Janet M. Spaid of Mahaffey, who told police that there had been previous injuries to Bennett, who told them Lee caused them. They told police that they had observed stab marks on Bennett’s arms and chest area, scratches to his face and neck and also a black eye. Janet Spaid told police that Lee had called their home on Sunday evening indicating that she and Bennett had been in an “altercation” and she was scared because she could not find him.

Lee was charged at District Judge Jim Glass’ office on Monday afternoon with criminal homicide, aggravated assault, simple assault and harassment. She is lodged in Clearfield County Jail without bond because in the state of Pennsylvania, criminal homicide is a non-bailable offense.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled Feb. 14 at Centralized Court in the CCJ in front of Glass.

Clearfield County District Attorney William Shaw Jr. thanked the state police for their efforts in resolving this case in timely manner.

For first time ever, DAHS prom to be held off site at DuBois Country Club

DuBOIS — Though there is still snow on the ground — and Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter is still to come — it will be prom time before high school students know it.

And this year will mark the first time that the DuBois Area High School prom will be held somewhere other than the gym. It is going to be held Saturday, May 19, at the DuBois Country Club.

“We just have had a decline in help as far as decorating and so on,” said co-advisor Denise Sloan, noting that co-advisor Heidi Shindledecker felt it was time to move the prom somewhere else.

It takes about a week to transform the gym into a beautiful room for prom, Sloan said.

“It all had to be done after school,” Shindledecker said. “And the kids just had so many other commitments with spring sports and they work.”

“It was also getting very expensive to transform a gym into a room,” Sloan said. “The material that we would use to lower the ceilings and make walls. The junior class pays for the fundraising.”

The prom committee, made up of juniors, does all the work for the senior class.

“We reached out to the country club to make sure that they could accommodate us first, and they were very helpful and excited to work with us,” Shindledecker said. “Once we had that established, and we had a budget to take back to the kids. We brought it to them, and they unanimously voted in committee. We polled the junior and senior classes, and they voted overwhelmingly to move it.”

“I think it’s going to be a lot better for pictures, and it’s a prettier place,” said prom committee member and junior Kelli Hoffer.

Junior Prom Committee Member Alaina Heberling agreed.

“We’re in there a lot for gym classes. To have the dance in there, it still feels nice, but to actually go somewhere, it definitely feels a lot nicer and more formal,” said Heberling.

“I’m always a fan of firsts,” said Junior Prom Committee Member Jake Butterfuss. “I think this is a great opportunity to host at, not only a different venue, but this place is brand new. They redid everything. I think it’s going to be great.”

Though there may still be some decorating to do, it will be much less, Sloan said.

“The room is just pretty as it is,” said Sloan.

No prom theme has yet been selected yet.

Prom is normally a well-attended event, Butterfuss said.

“We already predominantly get most of the juniors to go. I think it will also encourage kids that didn’t want to go in the past. It’s a new place, so it’ll be really exciting,” Butterfuss said.

Sloan said the time of the prom will remain the same, from 8-11 p.m.

“We’re not going to feed them dinner there,” Sloan said. “We get probably between around 450 kids attending, and that’s just a lot of kids to sit down and have dinner. We’re still going to let them do dinner on their own.”

Plus, they wanted to keep ticket prices about the same. If not the same, the increase will be minimal, maybe a $5 increase.

The opportunity for pictures at the DuBois Country Club is very good, Sloan said.

“They go there anyway to get their pictures taken beforehand, and they go in front of the Tannery, or down to the gazebo,” Sloan said.

Sloan said she has been helping the prom committee for 29 years and said she’s ready to try something new.

Photo by Andy Stine 

DuBois Central Catholic's Alyssa Bittner goes to lay the ball in as Kane's Audri Marconi (35) defends. Bittner scored four points in the Lady Cardinals' 51-29 loss to Kane.

St. Marys drug bust nets 38 bricks of heroin, over $20,000 cash

ST. MARYS — St. Marys City police filed drug charges against four Elk County residents after they served two search warrants Thursday at two St. Marys properties.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, the police and the Attorney General’s North Central Municipal Drug Task Force had been investigating the trafficking of narcotics in Elk County when they heard in August 2017 that 23-year-old John “Johnny” Pistner was dealing heroin.

Police say they were informed that Pistner was selling heroin from multiple locations, including from his mother’s garage at 642 S. Michael St.

As time passed, police became aware that there were other players who were allegedly involved in the operation, including Pistner’s long-term girlfriend 29-year-old Kimberly Gier, who lives at 620 Pontzer Ave. with Pistner and three young children.

Also identified as helping with the distribution is 29-year-old John Gier and 27-year-old Johnna Borrello.

On Thursday, Elk County detective Gregg McManus obtained two search warrants and served the warrants around noon that day at the two houses.

At the South Michael Street home, police say they found 38 bricks of heroin, methamphetamine, individually packaged bags of marijuana, and an assortment of drug paraphernalia. Approximately $14,770 in cash, as well as Pistner, John Gier, and Borrello were also found there.

Police seized all of their cell phones as well as two guns found in the garage.

Police then served a warrant at the Pontzer Avenue apartment where they found Kimberly Gier with her infant child. They also found several bundles of heroin, drug paraphernalia, plastic bags with a white substance inside, and $5,289 in cash.

After the warrants were executed, several interviews were conducted in which police found that Pistner had started to deal heroin on a small scale, which had eventually grown to getting approximately $50,000 worth of heroin at a time and selling it in the Elk County area.

The following charges have been filed against the aforementioned individiuals:

  • John Maurus Pistner, 23, 620 Pontzer Ave., Apt. 1, St. Marys, is charged with three counts of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver, conspiracy, dealing in proceeds of unlawful acts, criminal use of a communication facility, three counts of endangering the welfare of children, three counts of possession of a controlled substance, and three counts of possession of drug paraphernalia. He was remanded to Elk County Prison in lieu of posting $100,000 cash bail. 2/13 @9:15
  • Kimberly Marie Gier, 29, 620 Pontzer Ave., Apt. 1, St. Marys, is charged with four counts of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver, two counts of endangering the welfare of children, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was remanded to Elk County Prison in lieu of posting $30,000 cash bail. 2/13 @9am
  • Johnna Rae Borrello, 27, 117 David St., Kersey, is charged with four counts of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was remanded to Elk County Prison in lieu of posting $30,000 cash bail. 2/13 @9am
  • John Paul Gier, 29, 137 Wehler Road, St. Marys, is charged with is charged with four counts of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was remanded to Elk County Prison in lieu of posting $30,000 cash bail.

Currently, all four defendants are scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing before District Judge Mark Jacob of St. Marys around 9 a.m. Feb. 13.

Sandy Twp. applies for two grants for proposed sewer work

DuBOIS — The Sandy Township Municipal Authority is applying for two grants for two major sewer projects, according to Sandy Township Engineer Perry Bowser.

At Monday’s meeting, the supervisors approved a resolution to apply for a Small Water and Sewer Program Grant in the amount of $416,450.

Bowser said this grant is for an extension of the sewer line up into the Industrial Park area where the township is building a new road.

“The total project is $489,941 and the authority is requesting a grant for 85 percent of that which is $416,450,” Bowser said.

Included with the resolution are two letters, one stating that the township is applying for the grant and is an eligible applicant. The second letter states that the township is requesting that amount and will provide the 15 percent matching amount of $73,491, Bowser said.

The resolution requests the grant and designates the chairman and secretary to execute all documents related to the grant, Bowser said.

The second resolution is for a second application under the same program for replacing sewer lines in the area of the DuBois Nursing Home located off Maple Avenue.

The total project is estimated at $480,633 and the township is requesting a grant of $346,854, which is 85 percent of the project. Bowser said again a letter is included with the application stating that the township will match the grant, a total of $61,209, or 15 percent.

Where do area schools hold their proms?

It’s kind of half and half as to how many high schools in the Tri-County still host prom in their gyms.

For the first time ever, the DuBois Area High School prom will be held off site, at the DuBois Country Club on May 19.

As usual, Brockway Area High School’s prom will be held in the gym on Friday, May 4, according to a high school secretary.

A secretary at the Brookville Area High School said prom is sometimes held in the cafeteria of the school or at the Pine Crest Country Club. However, this year, it is going to be held May 19 at Corbinview Farms, which is located at 5200 Allens Mills Road, Reynoldsville. It features a rustic barn and farmland for social gatherings.

Clearfield Area High School holds their prom at the Florian Banquet Center, 321 Mill Road, Clearfield, said Kim Davis, secretary.

“Since we have been a junior-senior high school, we have left the gym,” Davis said. “This place is already semi-ready. They go in there and have a caterer. For about four years we have had it in the Florian.” This year’s prom will be held May 4.

Curwensville Area High School students will attend their prom on May 11 in the gym, where it is always held.

St. Marys Area High School’s prom will be held May 12 at the Red Fern.

Johnsonburg Area High School’s prom has not been held in its gym for awhile, said Superintendent Dennis Crotzer. For the last several years, it’s been held at the fire hall but it was booked this year already. Now, the April 28th prom will be held at a location in St. Marys.