Deceased fire chief's home burglary case is continued
Ron Gower/TIMES NEWS Ryan Thomas Heiser, 29, of North Fourth St., Lehighton, leaves the office of District Judge Edward Lewis of Jim Thorpe after his hearing scheduled for yesterday was continued. He allegedly burglarized the house of the late Lehighton Fire Chief Jack Kuller after Kuller had died. Kuller was Heiser's neighbor.
A burglary suspect who allegedly broke into the home of his neighbor, the late Lehighton Fire Chief Jack Kuller, just two days before the chief's funeral, had his hearing continued.
It was scheduled for Wednesday before District Judge Edward Lewis of Jim Thorpe. The new date is June 1.
The defendant is Ryan Thomas Heiser, 29, of 415 N. Fourth St., Lehighton.
Kuller, who died on Friday, April 22, lived next door to Heiser. The burglary allegedly occurred on Monday, April 25, at about 6:45 p.m.
The continuance of the hearing occurred because Attorney Matthew Rapa of Lehighton was appointed to defend Heiser just hours before the hearing.
Attorney Rapa asked for the continuance so that both Heiser and a co-defendant, who has yet to be arrested, can have their cases tried together.
The affidavit filed by the Lehighton Police Department alleges that Heiser's girlfriend, Susan Steinhouser, took part in the incident. The age and address of Steinhouser isn't listed in the affidavit.
The arresting officer is Patrolman Brian Biechy of the Lehighton Police Department. Biechy writes in the affidavit that Heiser told him Steinhouser "was a lookout" during the burglary.
Heiser told police the only thing he stole was a Rosary, according to the affidavit.
Some family members of Kuller were present at the office of Lewis for the hearing. There also were relatives of Heiser present.
Heiser faces the felony charges of burglary and criminal trespass, and the misdemeanor charge of theft by unlawful taking or disposition.
The burglary was reportedly witnessed by someone who gave a description of Heiser to police.
Biechy says in the affidavit that he and officer Joseph Lawrence went to Heiser's residence. It adds, "The offender was asked if he knew why we were there and he replied 'yes.' The offender was asked if he would voluntarily come to the Lehighton Police Department to speak with this officer and he replied 'yes.'"
It adds, "At the Lehighton Police Department, the offender was asked why he thought the police wanted to talk with him and the offender voluntarily stated that he was the one that broke into the Kuller residence which is the offender's next door neighbor."
Kuller, 60, had died unexpected in his residence on Good Friday. He was found by his son, Joshua.
The funeral, held two days after the burglary, was attended by firefighters from throughout the region. Kuller had been the fire chief in Lehighton since 1995 until his death.
Officials ruled that Kuller died of natural causes.