Deaths of Arnold mother, son ruled homicides
Arnold police are hoping that crime lab tests will help them solve how a 46-year-old mother and her 22-year-old son died in an apparent double homicide inside their Third Avenue home days earlier.
The bodies of Bonnie Lee Broadwater and her son, Lance Holt, were found inside the house they rented at 1535 Third Ave. at about 11 p.m. Thursday, police said.
“There was a great deal of violence in the house. We are treating this as a homicide,” said Westmoreland County District Attorney John W. Peck.
It was not immediately clear whether police have any suspects.
Five county detectives and the county forensic unit were investigating at the scene much of Friday.
Arnold police Chief Willie Weber said the victims were found when a friend went looking for them. He knocked on the door, prompting one of the victims' two pit bull puppies to push back a curtain in a front-room window, revealing a body on the floor.
“That's when he called police, and a sergeant forced his way inside,” Weber said.
The chief said the two apparently had been dead several days.
Weber said the two were found on the first floor “in proximity” of, but not right next to, each other. Both were fully dressed and wearing shoes.
Because of the condition of the bodies, police couldn't tell if the two had been shot, stabbed or beaten or if they died from another cause.
Police said they didn't find any weapons near the body, so they have all but ruled out murder-suicide. There weren't any drugs or drug paraphernalia, either.
Police are asking anyone who saw or heard anything to call them.
Authorities said Broadwater and Holt had lived in the house about six months.
The chief said their landlord described them as “nice, current with their rent and didn't cause a problem in the neighborhood.”
Next-door neighbor Paula Renee Brown said she didn't hear or see anything strange in the block where she has lived more than 17 years.
“Bonnie and Lance were nice and would say hi,” Brown said. “We'd talk when they came and went and when they were in the backyard.”
The apparent homicides left neighbor Desirerea Serena uneasy.
“This is crazy,” she said, “and it's scary.”
Westmoreland County detectives started to collect evidence before daylight on Friday and were still searching and photographing the interior of the house well into the day.
The bodies were taken for autopsies by forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht's lab in Pittsburgh, which is under contract with the Westmoreland County Coroner's Office.
There have been a couple of instances of serious violence in the area in recent years.
In 2010, an arsonist set fire to a house and apartment across the street from where the two were found.
In 2009, a 10-year-old Arnold boy was shot in the leg while skateboarding about a block away.In addition, murder victim Stephanie Coyle's body was found on July 16, 1993, in her garage apartment off an alley behind the same block.
Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.