Pennsylvania Amish Mother of 2 Had ‘Cutting Wounds’ Inside Home: Report

rebekah byler

Getty An Amish buggy.

Rebekah Byler was a pregnant Amish woman and married mother of two who was murdered in her home in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, on February 26.

A press release from Pennsylvania police identified the victim as Rebekah A. Byler, age 23.

On March 2, Pennsylvania police announced that they have arrested a suspect, Shawn C. Cranston, 52, of Corry, Pennsylvania. The motive was not released, but he is in custody. He is accused of causing the victim’s death by shooting her in the head and/or slashing her throat, according to Meadville Tribune.

shawn cranston

MugshotShawn Cranston.

On February 26 at about 12:26 p.m., Pennsylvania police were notified “of a deceased female at a residence located on Fish Flats Road,” the release says.

Although the release does not specify a cause of death, Byler had gunshot wounds, according to an initial report by CBS News. Despite that earlier report, though, CBS News is now reporting that Byler “suffered cutting wounds to her neck and head.”

CBS reported that Byler’s body was discovered in the livingroom of her home. Officers “found Rebekah Byler on her back in the living room,” CBS news reported, citing a search warrant. According to CBS News, police are seeking “knives, blades, cutting instruments and other items,” but they do not have the murder weapon.

According to Your, the neighborhood in Spartanburg, Pennsylvania, where Byler died “usually doesn’t see much vehicle traffic, mostly just horse and buggy.” Your reported that Byler was pregnant.

“Everyone is stunned, this doesn’t happen here,” Charleen Hajec, a pharmacist, told ABC News. “Everyone is talking, it’s scary and frustrating.”

“This is a tight-knit community, the outside world doesn’t get in,” Hajec added. “To have something this tragic … it doesn’t happen here.”

Here’s what you need to know:

Pennsylvania Police Say the Death Is Being Investigated as a ‘Criminal Homicide’

Troopers “responded to the scene and located the deceased female. The death is currently being investigated as a criminal homicide,” the news release says.

Pennsylvania State Police wrote that they are “aggressively investigating all available leads.”

The public “is being asked to report any suspicious persons, vehicles or activity in the area of Fish Flats Road to the Corry barracks at 814-663-2043,” the release says.

According to Go Erie, the home where the murder occurred is a small house located down a dirt road. Homicide is rare in Amish country, according to Go Erie.

“We are just aggressively following up on leads,” Lt. Mark Weindorf, crime section supervisor for the state police told Go Erie. “We don’t have any suspects or much else at this time.”

Rebekah Byler Was 6 Months Pregnant

According to My Erie, Byler’s husband discovered her body. They have two other children. Go Erie reported that a relative and family friend discovered Byler’s body, however.

And CBS News later reported that, according to a search warrant, a female family friend called 911 after Byler’s husband, Andy Byler, found her body.

“I said ‘Let’s hope when I come around the corner there’s not a person in sight’… and it was just packed. I said ‘Oh my god’. I just can’t believe it. Why would someone do that to a young girl?” a man in the community, who knew the victim, told My Erie, although he did not give his name.

WTAE-TV reported that Byler was six months pregnant. The couple’s two children were not harmed, WTAE reported. It’s not clear whether the two children were inside the home when the murder occurred or what their ages are.

My quoted a police official as saying the death occurred under “suspicious circumstances,” although the cause of death and more details of the crime scene were not revealed.

According to Amish America, “With 53 total settlements, Pennsylvania leads the nation in number of Amish communities.” Crawford County, where Byler died, also has a significant Amish community, according to the site.

“Crawford County is remarkable for being the county containing the greatest number of individual Amish communities, with a total of 7 as of 2008,” Amish America reports. “Significant settlements in this county include the community at Atlantic (1924, 6 districts), Spartansburg (1966, 9 districts), and Conneautville (1969, 3 districts).” The “oldest and best known” Amish community in Pennsylvania is located in Lancaster, however, according to Amish America.

In the United States as a whole, according to Amish America, “there are more than 380,000 Old Order Amish people living in over 630 settlements.”

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