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Lehighton man used chainsaw in killing, police say

A Lehighton man has been charged with criminal homicide following an incident in the borough Monday that left one man dead.

Pennsylvania State Police said Zak Russel Moyer, 30, has been charged in the killing of a 59-year-old man.

According to the affidavit of probable cause filed by Trooper Gary Fedor of the Pennsylvania State Police - Lehighton barracks in the case against Moyer:

At 3:34 p.m., the PSP Lehighton barracks received a call from Lehighton Borough Police requesting assistance on an active assault in which a man attacked another man with a chainsaw and a knife.

Lehighton PSP Patrol Troopers responded to the scene of the incident in the 200 block of Carbon Street.

Upon arrival to the scene, it was learned the victim, identified by police as Edward Whitehead Jr., 59, who resided at 239 Carbon St., was struck with a chainsaw and a knife in the head by Moyer, who was wearing a mask and a black costume-like garment, consistent with the “Scream” movie character.

At this point, the investigation was relinquished to PSP by the Lehighton Borough Police Department at the direction of the Carbon County District Attorney’s Office.

Moyer was observed on surveillance video footage exiting the rear of 239 Carbon St., and is seen entering the rear property at 241/243 Carbon St.

Whitehead was transported to St. Luke’s Hospital Carbon Campus, where he died from his injuries.

Through neighborhood canvas interviews, it was determined that Moyer was inside of the residence located at 241 Carbon St.

At that time, patrol troopers established a perimeter and Moyer began communicating with troopers via a notebook.

Moyer’s notes to police stated that the victim had committed crimes against women and children.

After being held by troopers on scene, Moyer surrendered without incident, and was taken into custody around 5:30 p.m.

Several police departments, including Lehighton, Pennsylvania State Police, Carbon County Sherrif’s Dept., Carbon County Detectives, Carbon County District Attorney Michael Greek, Mahoning Township Police, Palmerton Borough Police, Lehigh Township Police K-9 Unit, Lehighton School District Police, Lehighton Ambulance Association, and Lehighton Fire Police responded to the area while a search for Moyer took place.

The Pennsylvania State Police Troop N Major Case Team has taken over the investigation.

Moyer was arraigned before District Judge Eric Schrantz this morning and is being held at Carbon County Correctional Facility without bail.

Moyer is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing April 3.

Lehighton Area School District Superintendent Dr. Christina Fish, discussed the matter at Monday night’s school board meeting.

Fish said an immediate lockdown was implemented for after school athletics.

Student drivers were escorted to their vehicles by police officers. Other students were escorted to waiting parents.

The school board’s meeting was held as scheduled, though Fish said had the suspect not been apprehended by that time, the meeting would have been canceled.

Fish added that when all student athletes had been successfully evacuated from campus, they then dismissed students from the Lehighton Elementary Center who were on campus for the SHINE and other after-school programs with a continued law enforcement presence.

“Thank you to the local law enforcement agencies such as the Palmerton Police and the Carbon County Sheriff’s officers who supported our LASD School Police officer in providing support during the lockdown,” Fish said. “I am very appreciative of my administrative team and coaching staff who responded quickly and efficiently to move all of our student athletes to safety as well as supervising their dismissal from campus.

“To our parents, thank you for your patience and understanding of our need to follow law enforcement guidance as we dismissed students. Most importantly, I want to thank our student athletes who followed instructions quickly and respectfully. I understand it was a scary event, but you handled it in such a way as to assist the adults involved in maintaining your safety.”

Fish said that if a student feels they need to speak about the incident with a professional, school counselors or building principals are available to provide support.

Reporter Ron Gower contributed to this report.

Police were searching for a man after an attack in Lehighton Monday afternoon. COPYRIGHT LARRY NEFF/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS