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Woman says she shot her mother with crossbow after argument

A Palmerton woman was arraigned on one count of homicide on Friday night after she told police she shot her mother in the neck and face with a crossbow.

Lisa Marie Caplan, 51, was charged with criminal homicide in the death of her mother, Sandra Marie Barndt, 71, after police discovered the body Friday afternoon.

When family members became concerned that they had not heard from Barndt since Wednesday, Brenda Holliday contacted police for a welfare check after 1 p.m.

Patrolman Adam L. Shimer arrived on scene at 716 First St. in Palmerton, where he found Caplan and Holliday standing outside the residence.

According to court records, both women approached Shimer’s vehicle, and Caplan told Shimer that Barndt had assaulted her, and that she had to shoot her.

Holliday told Shimer that her daughter’s boyfriend had received a text message from Caplan stating that she had shot her mother.

Upon entering the home, Shimer found the body on the floor, covered by a blanket, with a hand and foot sticking out. Blood was seeping out from under the blanket.

Shimer said that he saw an object sticking out of the body under the blanket.

Shimer contacted Carbon County 911 and requested emergency medical services.

The medic lifted the blanket to find the victim dead, with an arrow sticking out of her facial/neck area. Carbon County Chief Deputy Coroner Jerry Jones pronounced Barndt deceased at 1:58 p.m.

Police took Caplan into custody at the scene. She was arraigned on Friday night in Weatherly by District Justice Joseph D. Homanko.

According to court papers, Caplan waived her Miranda rights and consented to an interview where she said that she had gotten into an argument with Barndt on Wednesday evening. Caplan said that she went upstairs and took a crossbow, loaded it, went back downstairs, and shot Barndt in the neck as she sat on the couch.

Caplan said that she then went back upstairs, reloaded the crossbow, and went back downstairs and shot Barndt in the facial area before returning the crossbow and going to bed.

She admitted that she did not make any attempt to render medical aid or contact emergency services.

The home where Barndt’s body was found is a brick duplex on a quiet block just around the corner from Palmerton Hospital.

At the arraignment, Caplan said that she had lived at the residence for 14 years, but had moved out for surgery and “to be alone, then I moved back there.”

Answering questions from the judge, Caplan said that she had not been under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and had not taken any illegal substances in the last few days.

Neighbors said that a middle-aged woman had been living at the house for a year or more, and suggested she suffered from mental illness. Some said they know her as “Lisa,” while others said she is known as “the shovel lady” because she has often been seen carrying a shovel as she walked around the neighborhood.

“She just had some bizarre behaviors, for example she would carry shovels up and down the street here on Lafayette avenue to the water towers. There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to why she was carrying the shovel,” neighbor Shawn Green said.

Kelly Follweiler agreed the behavior was strange, but she never thought Caplan was dangerous. She recalled one time where Caplan knocked on her door after hours.

“Just because of her previously walking down the street with a shovel, it’s just not normal,” she said.

First Street was closed for several hours as troopers investigated the scene.

District Attorney Jean Engler and County Coroner Robert Miller were on scene throughout the afternoon, as well as state police homicide detectives from Troop N and Palmerton Police.

Because Caplin is charged with homicide, she is not eligible for bail.

A preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 11 with Judge William Kissner.

State police investigators canvass the area around a home where Sandra Marie Barndt was found dead Friday.
Police are on scene at 716 First St. in Palmerton where they found the body of Sandra Marie Barndt. For more photos from the incident, see photo gallery at tnonline.com. CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS