Rebekah Byler case: Husband of slain pregnant Amish woman in Pennsylvania testifies his young children told him of the killing


MEADVILLE, Pennsylvania — The husband of a pregnant Amish woman killed inside her rural Pennsylvania home late last month testified Friday that his two young children told him about the crime when he got back from looking at potential roofing jobs.

Video in the player above is from a previous report.

“I didn’t really believe it,” Andy Byler said at a preliminary hearing for Shawn C. Cranston, charged with two counts of homicide in the Feb. 26 killing of Rebekah Byler and her unborn child. “I walked in and saw her cap laying inside the door.”

The district judge for the hearing ruled there was enough evidence to send the case to Crawford County Common Pleas Court for trial proceedings.

Cranston, 52, a truck driver who lives in Corry, about 8 miles (13 kilometers) from the Byler home near Spartansburg, is also charged with burglary and trespassing.

District Judge Amy Nichols rejected a request to have the charges dismissed, despite an argument by defense attorney Gary Alan Kern that prosecutors did not identify a motive or produce a murder weapon.

Rebekah Byler, 23, was shot in the head and suffered sharp wounds to her neck, state trooper Samuel Hubbard testified.

Andy Byler said his wife had been doing laundry when he left that morning with a neighbor and a driver. When he got back home and went inside, Byler said he saw his wife on the floor. The driver, Julie Warner, called 911 while he waited in a truck for police to arrive.

Warner said she tried to calm him down and went into the house to collect the children. She found them playing with toys in the dining room and led them out to the porch.

Warner said she told a 911 dispatcher she felt she could not check Rebekah Byler’s pulse but that she could tell her body was cold.

Other witnesses described seeing a red Jeep in the area that morning, including parked by the Byler home. A neighbor testified that Cranston drove a red Jeep.

Members of the Amish community filled four rows on one side of the courtroom for Friday’s hearing. Cranston was wearing a bulletproof vest and said nothing during the proceedings.

In court documents filed for a search of the murder scene, state police said they recovered guns, ammunition, knife parts and other items.

Cranston has been in the county jail without bond since being arrested March 2.

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