Police: 4 suspects plotted brutal Youngwood murder and stole heroin, cash
Four people plotted to rob and brutally stab an acquaintance last week at his Youngwood home and then split up two bricks of heroin, $1,100 and other drugs, according to police.
Then, for roughly five days, three of the four suspects stayed in the community until state police gathered enough evidence to arrest them early Thursday on homicide, robbery and conspiracy charges in connection with the death of Matthew Genard , 50. One suspect remained at large Thursday morning and police described him as dangerous.
"All four of them played an integral part," said Trooper Steve Limani. "They were going to rob and kill him. ... It was something they talked about hours in advance."
Michael James Covington Jr., 20; Linda Kay Quidetto, 40; and Jason Sullenberger, 40, all of Youngwood, were arraigned Thursday and lodged in the Westmoreland County Prison without bail. Police have an arrest warrant for Christopher James "CJ" David, 40, of Youngwood.
"He knows what he did, and he knows that we're out there looking for him," Limani said. "We're very concerned he's out there."
Three suspects headed to Westmoreland County Prison now. Police need help finding the fourth suspect. pic.twitter.com/YvoQ3NAYX9— Renatta Signorini (@ByRenatta) November 16, 2017
Police believe the alleged plot began the evening of Nov. 8.
The four suspects allegedly met at Quidetto and Sullenberger's North Fourth Street apartment. According to a criminal complaint, David "mentioned that he wanted to rob" Genard of drugs and money because he was upset with him. All five people involved are acquaintances and drug users, Limani said.
While David and Sullenberger left to buy drugs elsewhere, Quidetto and Covington allegedly took a walk past Genard's home, less than a mile away, he said. Investigators had identified the Wineman Lane home as a drug distribution point earlier this year after dismantling a heroin trafficking ring, a part of which police said operated from there. Genard was not charged as being part of that alleged operation.
"They notified Sullenberger and David that the residence appeared to be only occupied by our victim Matthew Genard," Limani said. "They walked past there with a specific purpose."
The group reconvened at the North Fourth Street apartment around 3 a.m. Nov. 9 and the three men left for Genard's home, police said in court paperwork.
David allegedly began arguing with Genard and put him in a choke hold that exposed his back, Trooper Josh Benyon wrote in the complaint.
"While he did that, Mr. Sullenberger helped try to restrain (Genard) and Mr. Covington stabbed Mr. Genard repeatedly in the back in excess of almost 20 times," Limani said. "Subsequently, Mr. Sullenberger took control of the knife and slit Mr. Genard's throat."
Covington told investigators that he "froze" when Genard began "to plead for his life," according to the affidavit.
The three men allegedly gathered up heroin, cocaine, marijuana, cash, the knife and Genard's cellphone, then removed his jeans. They allegedly split up the proceeds, showered at Sullenberger's apartment and placed their clothing and the knife in a garbage bag. The items were burned in a fire pit at a home in Luxor, police said. Quidetto was not present during the stabbing but was involved in the planning, Limani said.
"To stab somebody 20 times, obviously, there's some anger, intent to make sure that you're killing this person," he said during a news conference Thursday.
Genard's body was found around 10 p.m. Friday by an acquaintance, police said.
"Unfortunately, this didn't have to end in a homicide. We want people to get help, to get in rehab," Limani said.
David is known to frequent the Youngwood area and is recovering from a black eye. An arrest warrant has been issued.
Authorities are looking for the knife they believe was used in stabbing and information on the whereabouts of all four suspects during the last week. Limani encouraged anyone with information call 911 or state police at 724-832-3288.
Christopher David, 40, has a black eye and police consider him to be dangerous. Call 911 or 724-832-3288 if you have info about him. pic.twitter.com/0eQvzX7dS8— Renatta Signorini (@ByRenatta) November 16, 2017
Preliminary hearings for Quidetto, Sullenberger and Covington are set for Nov. 28.
The four suspects have minor criminal histories.
Quidetto was arrested by Derry police in 2014 on marijuana and drug paraphernalia charges and was cited by state police in 2004 for harassment in Derry Township, according to court records.
Sullenberger was cited for disorderly conduct Oct. 27 by Greensburg police and harassment in July for an incident in Youngwood.
David, who previously gave authorities a Washington County address in Elrama, was charged in 2015 with retail thefts at stores in Hempfield and North Huntingdon, according to court records.
Covington has no previous criminal history as an adult.
Staff writer Paul Peirce contributed. Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @byrenatta.