The Express-Times | By Jim Deegan
Carrie Smith was never the same after bandits awakened her in her Wilson Borough home, threatened to "blow her brains out" and stole $40,000 in cash and jewelry on Jan. 15, relatives say.
The 76-year-old Easton Hospital retiree suffered a heart attack that night and died two months later.
"My feelings? She was never right after that," said Donald Hockman, Smith's brother.
On Friday borough police charged a 17-year-old in connection with the early morning robbery, hours after Smith's granddaughter, 28-year-old Rebecca Johnson, also was charged in the crime.
Two other suspects involved in the robbery at Smith's home in the 2400 block of Hillside Avenue remain at large, said police Chief Steven Parkansky.
Robbers barged into Smith's bedroom as she slept, put a pillowcase over her face, pressed an object to the back of her head and threatened to shoot her if she didn't open a combination safe in her room, Parkansky said Friday.
"This was horrific," he said of the home invasion. "This was a very intense, long investigation. It's through the diligence of Detective Chris Meehan that this case is solved. It was a lot of work."
Northampton County Assistant District Attorney Patricia Fuentes Mulqueen said prosecutors linked Smith's heart attack to the robbery but weren't able to link her death to the heart attack.
"The determination has been made that homicide charges will not be filed," Mulqueen said Friday. "(Smith's) treating physicians were interviewed and contacted by the Wilson P.D. What I can say for sure is she did sustain a heart attack as result of the robbery. She did not die of the heart attack, though."
Relatives say they have no doubt Smith's death was linked to the terror she experienced that night.
"She'd still be here if it wasn't for this," said another relative who didn't wish to be identified.
Court records detailing the crime were sealed under a county judge's order to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation as well as to "protect interested parties," Mulqueen said.
Police arrested Smith's granddaughter, Johnson, following a car chase Thursday night that ended in Palmer Township.
Should David Bechtold be tried as an adult for allegedly helping with the robbery and assault of a 76-year-old woman?
Arrested Friday was David Alan Bechtold, 17, of the 2100 block of Birch Street in Wilson Borough. Like Johnson, he was arraigned by District Judge Richard Yetter on charges of robbery, aggravated assault and related crimes.
Yetter set bail for the sobbing Bechtold, who was accompanied by several family members during his arraignment, at $500,000 and ordered the teen to Northampton County Prison. He was charged as an adult. A preliminary hearing is tentatively set for July 3.
Johnson was arraigned at Easton Hospital, where she was being treated for ingesting pills prior to her arrest and for cuts caused by a broken car window during the arrest, Parkansky said. Her bail is $750,000 and a preliminary hearing was tentatively set for June 28, court records show.
Johnson listed an address in the 700 block of Washington Street in Easton but also resided at Bechtold's address in Wilson, Parkansky said.
Authorities wouldn't elaborate on specific roles in the robbery, but Parkansky said Bechtold was involved in the planning and execution as a co-conspirator with Johnson.
Smith, a widow who lived alone, worked 20 years at Easton Hospital, retiring in 1999. She worked as a caregiver and also had many cleaning jobs over the years, according to her obituary. She had lived in Wilson for more than 50 years.
Mulqueen said authorities believe the robbers pressed a gun to the back of Smith's head about 1 a.m. and said they would "blow her brains out" if she didn't cooperate. They put the object to her head as she fumbled for the combination to a bedroom safe, Parkansky said.
Parkansky said police believe the robbers got away with about $40,000 in cash and jewelry. A family member said the robbers pulled Smith out of bed by her hair and threw her on the floor.
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WILSON BOROUGH: Woman suffered heart attack as robbers threatened to kill her
The Express-Times | By Jim Deegan