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Carroll man accused of killing wife

| Saturday, March 30, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Jim Ference | The valley Independent
Shooting in Carroll Township, on 1566 Walters Street. Where Ronald George Powell of Carroll Township allegedly shot Leslie Powell at 4 AM. on March 28,2013.

Neighbors were still stunned hours after learning a 70-year-old Carroll Township man allegedly shot his wife to death as she slept early Friday morning.

State police said Ronald Powell, 70, awoke around 3 a.m., pulled a 12-gauge shotgun from beneath his bed, used a hand-held light to see, and shot Leslie Powell in the head.

The alleged incident took place at the couple's 1566 Walters St. home, on a narrow, dead-end lane off Fourth Street.

Ronald Powell called Washington 911 at 4:15 a.m. and admitted killing his wife, according to a criminal complaint.

Next-door neighbor Amy Bartkus said her husband, Casey, awoke sometime after 4 a.m. after hearing commotion from police cars pulling up to the Powell's single-level house. She said neither heard a shotgun blast.

“It's pretty surprising and disheartening,” Bartkus said. “This is the last thing I expected.”

Washington County Coroner Timothy Warco said Leslie Powell, 62, died of a single gunshot wound to the head.

She was pronounced dead at the scene 6:02 a.m.

Ronald Powell was charged with criminal homicide, arraigned by Magisterial District Judge James Ellis and sent to Washington County Correctional Facility without bond. His preliminary hearing is scheduled 10 a.m. April 10.

Investigators did not reveal a motive. State police from the Belle Vernon Barracks had provided no further information as of Friday evening.

“We're not at that point yet,” Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone said of a motive for the murder. “There are a couple things we heard, but we're still in the process of obtaining information.”

Carroll Township police Chief Paul Brand said Powell was arrested without incident by Carroll Township and Monongahela police, after which the investigation was turned over to state police.

Donora police assisted at the scene.

Brand said his department has no record of domestic problems involving the couple.

Bartkus said she and other neighbors considered Leslie Powell to be a caregiver for her husband.

“As far as we knew, he was older and had some physical problems, and she took care of him,” Bartkus said. “I've talked to her a few times. She's always been very nice, but I never talked to him in the 1½ years we lived here.”

Neighbor Cody Telegraphis, who recently performed snow removal for the Powells, acknowledged that Ronald Powell was dealing with health problems.

“I know he had trouble walking. … You saw her a lot more than you saw him,” said Telegraphis, 16, adding he slept through most of the ordeal. “My dad (Brian) started getting phone calls around 7 a.m. That's when I got up and looked out and saw all the cop cars. … The whole thing is pretty crazy.”

Bartkus said she didn't know of previous incidents involving Ronald and Leslie Powell.

“She had told us they had issues before we lived here of random people knocking on the door, but that's all I knew,” Bartkus said. “This is a shocker.”

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbruni@tribweb.com or 724-684-2635.

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