This article was originally published on GoErie.com by Tim Hahn on July 24, 2018
SPRINGBORO — Pennsylvania State Police investigators charge that a Cochranton-area man killed an 82-year-old western Crawford County man whom he reportedly planned to rob and forced three other people to help him dispose of the body in a pond near the victim’s residence.
An arrest warrant was issued on Tuesday for 36-year-old Kenneth E. Martell, of East Fairfield Township, on charges of criminal homicide, terroristic threats and simple assault in the killing of 82-year-old Theodore M. Garver, of Beaver Township, sometime between Monday at 10:30 p.m. and Tuesday at 6:59 a.m.
Martell remained at large Tuesday afternoon.
Troopers charge in the criminal complaint against Martell that he killed Garver with a knife, and that he used a handgun to threaten the three people forced to help him dispose of the body.
Garver’s body was recovered in a pond off Reeds Corners Road in Beaver Township, which state police said is located within a mile of Garver’s residence on Parker Road in Beaver Township, on Tuesday at about 11 a.m. An autopsy on the body is scheduled in Erie County on Wednesday.
Captain Dan Hines, commander of state police Troop E in Lawrence Park Township, said Tuesday that state police received information that led to the body’s discovery. According to information in the affidavit of probable cause filed with the criminal complaint against Martell, state police in Meadville were notified on Tuesday morning of a possible homicide and were told that a witness to the crime was at the Meadville Police Department.
Troopers went to the police station and spoke to the witness, who said that at about 1 a.m. on Tuesday Martell went to the witness’s Meadville residence and told the witness he needed help. The witness said they drove to a house in the Conneautville area and went inside, where a human body covered in blood was on the floor of an upstairs bathroom. The witness said Martell said he needed help disposing of the body, and they carried the body to a blue vehicle, drove it to a pond and placed it in the pond, troopers wrote in the affidavit.
Investigators spoke to another witness Tuesday morning who said that on Monday night, Martell went to a residence in East Fairfield Township and began to assault the witness and another person. The witness said Martell held them at gunpoint and made them travel to a house in the Springboro area. The witness said that during the trip Martell stated he had gone to the residence to rob the victim but ended up killing him, according to the affidavit.
The witness said they walked inside the residence and saw a body tied to a rocking chair in a bathtub, with the body bound with duct tape and electrical wire and covered in a blue-and-white blanket, troopers wrote in the affidavit. The witness said Martell made the other person help him remove the body from the chair and place the body on the bathroom floor. The witness said they then drove back to the East Fairfield Township address in a 2009 Hyundai with Ohio registration. The car is registered to Garver, according to the affidavit.
The witness said the other person was dropped off at the East Fairfield Township address before Martell and the witness traveled to the Meadville residence of the first witness, where Martell forced that witness to travel back to the victim’s residence and dispose of the body, troopers wrote in the affidavit.
The witness additionally told troopers that, after placing the body in the pond, they traveled to Conneaut, Ohio, and purchased cigarettes before burning the victim’s clothing and the blanket the body was wrapped in, according to the affidavit.
Four state police troopers traveled to Garver’s residence to check on his welfare shortly before 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. They observed a rocking chair, duct tape and blood at the scene, but Garver was not at the residence, according to the affidavit.
Martell is listed on his criminal complaint as being 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighing 150 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact state police in Meadville at (814) 332-6911.