Man arrested and charged in slaying of pregnant Amish woman in northwestern Pa.

This image taken from video shows a sign displayed at a local business in Spartansburg, Pa., Feb. 27, 2024. Investigators have no suspects in the killing of a pregnant 23-year-old Amish woman inside her home in rural northwestern Pennsylvania, and are appealing for tips from the public to help solve the crime, a state police spokeswoman said Wednesday. (Craig Rouse/WJET via AP)

By Associated Press

March 3, 2024

Shawn Cranston of Corry faces multiple charges, including criminal homicide and criminal homicide of an unborn child, in the killing of 23-year-old Rebekah Byler.

SPARTANSBURG — A man was arrested Saturday and charged with the slaying of a pregnant Amish woman whose body was found in rural northwest Pennsylvania last week.

Shawn C. Cranston, 52, of Corry, has been charged with criminal homicide, criminal homicide of an unborn child, burglary and criminal trespass, according to court documents.

He was denied bail at a preliminary arraignment early Saturday morning and is being held at the Crawford County jail with a preliminary hearing scheduled March 15; no defense attorney was listed and a number listed for Cranston was not in service. Calls and emails were made Saturday to state police, the district attorney and the public defender’s office.

Cranston’s arrest comes less than a week after authorities found the body of Rebekah A. Byler, 23, in the living room of her home a few miles from Spartansburg.

Police said she appeared to have cutting wounds to her neck and head, and a criminal complaint accuses the defendant of killing the victim by “shooting her in the head and/or slashing her throat.” A court spokesperson said an affidavit providing details of what police believe occurred would be released later along with other documents.

The killing shocked the rural community, located about 50 miles southeast of Erie, where people say the Amish get along well with their neighbors in the area.

Police began their investigation Feb. 26 after Byler’s husband, Andy Byler, found her body inside the home shortly after noon.

Trooper Cynthia Schick told The Associated Press on Thursday the investigation and autopsy have given police an idea of what murder weapon may have been used. Two young Byler children at the home were not harmed, Schick has said.

The Bylers’ home is located along a dirt road in a very remote farming area. Scores of Amish turned out for calling hours Thursday evening at a home in the community. Many arrived by buggies lit by headlights along the narrow country roads.

Residents said the Amish had a longstanding presence in the area and mixed well with the surrounding community. Amish and non-Amish visit each other’s homes, and the Amish work jobs for the non-Amish and attend events like the fish fries, they said. Neighbors have been raising money to help the Byler family.

Keystone senior community editor Patrick Berkery contributed to this report.

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