Husband of slain pregnant Amish woman was alerted to the crime by his young children

A group of Amish gather outside the Crawford County Judicial Center in Meadville, Pa., following a preliminary hearing Friday, Mar 15, 2024, for Shawn C. Cranston, 52, of Corry, Pa., who is accused of killing Rebekah Byler and her unborn child inside the Byler home near Spartansburg, Pa., on Feb. 26. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

By Ashley Adams

March 18, 2024

Shawn Cranston was arrested for allegedly murdering a pregnant Amish woman in her rural Pennsylvania home late last month. Both her young children were home at the time but were unharmed.

The two young children of a pregnant Amish woman who was killed inside her rural Pennsylvania home late last month were the ones who alerted their father about the crime, according to testimony during a preliminary hearing last week.

Andy Byler, the husband of the victim, Rebekah Byler, testified that his two children told him about the crime when he got back home from looking at potential roofing jobs.

“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 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 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.

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.

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.

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.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Author

  • Ashley Adams

    In her 16 years in the communications industry, Ashley Adams has worn many hats, including news reporter, public relations writer, marketing specialist, copy editor and technical writer. Ashley grew up in Berks County and has since returned to her roots to raise her three children.

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