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Court papers give murder details

  • Heath
Published February 06. 2014 05:00PM

New information has been confirmed with the release of court documents about the murder of Angela Steigerwalt of Tamaqua.

According to an affidavit of probable cause for the arrest of Anthony Darrell Heath, 24, of Allentown, filed Sunday with District Judge Edward Lewis of Jim Thorpe by Lehighton state Trooper Joseph Campbell, here's what happened:

At 10:48 a.m. Saturday, Campbell was called to help Jim Thorpe police with a burned torso that was found in the area of 600 Flagstaff Road.

The brush fire was discovered by Robert Romancheck, who was driving along the northern side of the road. Romancheck called 911 at 9:01 a.m. to report the fire.

Jim Thorpe Fire Chief Bill Diehm was sent to the scene at 9:43 a.m., with Jim Thorpe Patrolman Eric Schrantz arriving a minute later.

Diehm saw a fire about two feet high that was burning several pieces of wood and the surrounding brush. Two firefighters clambered down the bank and put out the fire.

When they used a rake to move the debris, they realized it included a human torso. They immediately stopped, and stepped away from the area.

Schrantz called Jim Thorpe Detective Lee Marzen and Police Chief Joseph Schatz. Marzen asked the state police forensic services unit and its criminal investigation unit to help.

When Campbell arrived, he saw the body, "with what appeared to be metal wires around the neck, and metal wires located underneath a wooden pole where what appeared to be legs would have been bound."

The forensic services unit and fire marshal began to process the scene. They found a Wal-Mart shopping bag near the victim. Inside was a receipt dated Feb. 1, 2014 at 5:44 a.m. from a store on Mill Creek Road in Allentown.

The items listed on the receipt were a plastic tote, lighter fluid, and a lighter. The state police Major Case Team went to the store, where they watched surveillance footage of customers at cash registers. The cameras had recorded a black male making the purchases at a self-checkout register.

The man also bought several other items, including underwear, men's T-shirts, jeans and a watch, totaling $71.55.

A check of register receipts showed the transaction and that a Wells Fargo Visa card registered to Angela Marie Steigerwalt had been used to buy the items.

The video showed Heath leaving the store with a large gray tote and the other items, which he put into a silver four-door sedan that resembled Steigerwalt's car. Steigerwalt owned a 2010 silver Buick LaCrosse.

A person who was out jogging on Flagstaff Road at about 8:35 a.m. Feb. 1 had seen a silver sedan speeding south on Broadway in Jim Thorpe. The car abruptly turned left onto Chestnut Hill Road, then quickly backed out, traveling up Broadway and turn onto Flagstaff Road. The jogger believed only one person was in the car.

State police checked drivers' licenses for people named Angela M. Steigerwalt, and found two.

As troopers arrived at Steigerwalt's Tamaqua home to talk with her, they were met by her husband, Gary Steigerwalt, who told them he had not seen or spoken to his 35-year-old wife since 1:45 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, when she left for work at Kraft Foods, Allentown. Angela Steigerwalt had been scheduled to work from 3 to 11 p.m. State police checked, and found she did work that shift.

Gary Steigerwalt told police he was just getting ready to report his wife to Tamaqua borough police as missing.

State police told him about the activity on his wife's credit card, and that someone else had possibly been driving her car, which had possibly been stolen.

Steigerwalt told police his wife's car had an OnStar system.

Campbell contacted OnStar and asked for GPS tracking of the car. He learned the car was in Kinston, N.C., and that OnStar would contact police there and let them know it was stolen.

At 11:09 a.m. Feb. 1, police from the Lenoir and Kinston police departments stopped the car.

Heath, who was driving it, initially refused to get out of the car; it took about five minutes to arrest him.

When he was searched, police found Steigerwalt's Visa card and driver's license in his wallet, along with a Pennsylvania ID card belonging to Dwight Bankatel McCurry of Allentown.

Heath's own driver's license was also in his wallet, allowing Kinston police to positively identify him.

Heath, who faces a charge of theft by unlawful taking for allegedly stealing the car, remains in the custody of Kinston police.

First Assistant Carbon County District Attorney Jean Engler earlier this week told the TIMES NEWS that the extradition proceedings have begun to bring Heath back to Pennsylvania.

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