PA State Troopers Charge 2 Men with Murder

From The Herald-Standard Newspaper of Uniontown, PA, June 24, 2013

PA State Police from the Uniontown Barracks have arrested two men charged with crimes arising from the alleged beating death of woman found Saturday in the Youghiogheny River in Dunbar Township.

Fayette County District Attorney Jack Heneks Jr. confirmed that Paul Jerome Bannasch, 24, of Hopwood and Craig Allen Rugg, 24, of Connellsville have been charged with criminal homicide, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, unlawful restraint, abuse of a corpse and criminal conspiracy to commit a homicide.

Heneks said the men were arraigned Sunday and taken to Fayette County Prison.

Authorities have identified the dead woman as Margaret Kriek, 52, of Connellsville.

According to the probable cause affidavit attached to the criminal complaint filed by Trooper Nate Lieberum, state police, an autopsy was performed Sunday by Dr. Cyril Wecht. The affidavit said the autopsy reported that the cause of death as strangulation. Additional injuries include a broken bone in the throat, massive blunt force trauma to the head and face, severe tearing of vaginal area, hemmorraging in anus area, internal hemmorraging on right side near the hip and abdominal area with a rib fracture. The affidavit said there were lacerations on the heels, legs, torso and arms.

The affidavit said Kriek’s body was discovered by a Boy Scout troop from Larimer around 9:45 a.m. Saturday while they were boating on the river. Troop leader Michael Hornicak reported that the discovery to Fayette 911 of a nude body of a white female partially submerged in the water. She was located in the vicinity of Riverside Drive in the township by rescuers.

Connellsville and state police along with personnel from Connellsville Township, New Haven Hose, South Connellsville, Morrell, Vanderbilt and Dawson scoured the riverbank from Connellsville to Adelaide. Fayette EMS also assisted at the scene.

A boat was used to recover the body.

When State Police Troopers arrived, the affidavit said, they discovered the naked body which had bruising on the wrist, arms, legs and feet. The affidavit said there were significant lacerations to the head and face and possible broken facial bones.

The affidavit said Connellsville police identified Kriek’s body.

Fayette County Deputy Coroner Ross Rock pronounced the woman dead at the scene at about 12:15 p.m.

According to the affidavit, Kriek and two men – Bannasch and Rugg – were seen around 11:30 p.m. Friday by multiple patrons at Sidewinders Bar in Connellsville. Later at around 12:19 a.m. Saturday, the affidavit said, patrons saw the two men and Kriek standing in the Amtrak train station’s parking lot.

Bannash asked patrons if they knew where Kriek lived, the affidavit said. Patrons offered to alert bar security, but Bannasch told them not to advise security, the affidavit said. He told them if they saw him on any files or wanted signs to say that they hadn’t seen him or knew him, the affidavit said.

The affidavit said some of Kriek’s clothing was found in the grass and gravel at the Amtrak station. Police observed drag marks and blood splatter patterns that led from the parking lot to the river. Along the river bank nearby, more of Kriek’s clothing was discovered which contained blood splatter patterns, the affidavit said.

Bannasch and Rugg have been convicted and sentenced for crimes against women in the past.

Bannasch was convicted of assaulting a pregnant woman and sentenced to six to 23 months in prison in February.

Bannasch was charged with multiple counts of aggravated assault, simple assault and disorderly conduct and single counts of recklessly endangering another person, resisting arrest and public drunkenness in the attack of BreeAnne Oliver, 19, of North Union Township.

In December, Fayette County President Judge John F. Wagner Jr. reduced the bond for Paul Jerome Bannasch, 23, to 10 percent of $10,000 cash, after the alleged victim in the case failed to appear in court to testify in a suppression hearing regarding the matter. Wagner also continued the hearing to allow prosecutors additional time to attempt to locate the alleged victim. Bannasch had been behind bars on $50,000 straight cash bond since his arrest on Aug. 18.

State police Trooper Christoper Cole and Heneks told Wagner that they were unable to locate Oliver.

Wagner dismissed seven of the charges that directly related to Oliver, and Bannasch then accepted Heneks offer of six to 23 months on the remaining charges – which were related to Bannasch’s interactions with police at the time of his arrest – with credit give for time served.

As a result, Bannasch was eligible for parole in February.

Trooper Cole had alleged Bannasch was under the influence of alcohol when he got into an argument with Oliver, and alleged he choked the woman and smashed her head into the ground multiple times at a residence in North Union Township.

Bannasch then dragged Oliver to a second-story window and was in the process of throwing her and her 1-year-old son out of the window when police arrived, Cole alleged. Bannasch tried to punch a police officer before being taken into custody, according to Cole.

Cole noted that Oliver and the toddler suffered minor injuries.

Bannasch told the court Tuesday that he has a hard time remembering what occurred during the incident.

“I don’t remember too much, I was drunk,” Bannasch testified.

“I’m two different people sober and drunk.”

Rugg pleaded guilty to indecent assault in exchange for a jail term of six to 23 months in September 2012 in Fayette County Court.

The plea entered by Rugg also included dismissal of rape of an unconscious person, aggravated indecent assault and sexual assault.

Rugg, represented by Public Defender Jeffrey Whiteko, admitted that he had indecent contact with the victim in the case while she was unconscious at a Menallen Township home on Aug. 20, 2011.

State police charged that the victim in the case got sick and fell asleep, and when she woke up, Rugg was having sex with her.

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