PUNXSUTAWNEY -- A 32 year-old Punxsutawney man has been charged in what the Pennsylvania State Police have termed a “gruesome, heinous” murder.
Michael Christopher Shugars, 33, Kathryn Drive, Punxsutawney, has been charged with criminal homicide, a felony count of aggravated assault, a felony count of robbery, abuse of a corpse, simple assault and theft by unlawful taking in the death of Chet Allen Haddow, 33, of Punxsutawney.
On Sunday, the state police in Punxsutawney received a report from an area resident of human remains that were located below the bridge near the village of Hamilton, Perry Township, Jefferson County. A fisherman, Dan May, reported what appeared to be two human arms and a thigh in the Mahoning Creek.
Trooper David Ray and the Punxsutawney Fire Department responded to the scene and met with Jefferson County Coroner Bernard Snyder who confirmed the body parts were human remains. The Punxsutawney Central Fire Department Dive Team and Perry Township Fire Department assisted at the scene.
Fingerprints were recovered and processed through the FBI’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). The FBI confirmed the fingerprints belonged to Haddow.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, Kayla Miller, who the police identified as the victim’s girlfriend, was interviewed. She told the police Haddow had received a call from Shugars on Friday, Sept. 13. Miller told the police Haddow said he was going to meet Shugars but did not return.
The affidavit said Miller told police she tried calling Haddow’s cell phone but did not get an answer. Miller then called Shugars and ask him if he had met with Haddow. Shugars told Miller he had not met with Haddow.
Shugars was interviewed by the state police at the PSP headquarters in Punxsutawney and waived his Miranda rights. According to the affidavit, Shugars said he had met with Haddow to conduct a drug deal near the Valier bridge where he got into Haddow’s car.
Shugars said he and Haddow drove up Fan House Road where he and Haddow struggled over a 9mm handgun that Sugars had brought with him. Shugars said the weapon went off, killing Haddow. Shugars said he drove the car to a remote area along Blose Hollow Road and walked home.
Shugars said after dark on the same night he returned to the scene and drove the car with Haddow’s body back to his residence on Kathryn Drive, Punxsutawney. He told police he dismembered the victim using a chainsaw within Haddow’s car. Shugars said he then drove the victim’s car to various locations in Jefferson and Indiana counties, stopping at several remote places and disposed of the body parts by throwing them either into water or down embankments.
Shugars told the police h took the car to a gas well located off of Blose Hollow Road and poured gasoline into the car, removed all of his clothing and placed it in the car. Shugars then set the car on fire and drove home in a vehicle had had taken from his grandfather’s garage.
The affidavit stated the drugs involved were a suboxone pill and two bags of heroin valued at $60.
“Once again the drug trade has reared its’ ugly head,” said PSP Captain Bernie Petrovsky. “The crime that occurred over the weekend was very much a gruesome, heinous crime. This is the type of crime we associate with cities but, unfortunately we have seen this type of crime creep into our area.”
Petrovsky said that in little more than 24 hours after being notified of the crime, the Major Case Unit assembled and, within 24 hours went from a finding a dismembered arm to making an arrest.
“I want to commend the Pennsylvania State Police once again,” said Jefferson County District Attorney Jeff Burkett. “Years ago they created the Major Case Team and this team activates criminal investigators from the entire region who come together to work on a crime like this. It is a great thing that from Sunday night, a compete who-done-it to an arrest last night (Monday).”
Lt. Christopher Neal said he believed all of the body parts had been recovered. An autopsy will be performed in Erie. A forensic team from Mercyhurst College assisted the police in the investigation.
No date has been set for a preliminary hearing.