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2 charged in death of woman found in Youghiogheny River

WPXI - Paul Jerome Bannasch, 24, of Uniontown has been charged with criminal homicide and aggravated indecent assault in the beating death of Margaret Kriek of Connellsville.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>WPXI</em></div>Paul Jerome Bannasch, 24, of Uniontown has been charged with criminal homicide and aggravated indecent assault in the beating death of Margaret Kriek of Connellsville.
WPXI - Craig Allen Rugg, 24, of Connellsville has been charged with criminal homicide and aggravated indecent assault in the beating death of Margaret Kriek of Connellsville.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>WPXI</em></div>Craig Allen Rugg, 24, of Connellsville has been charged with criminal homicide and aggravated indecent assault in the beating death of Margaret Kriek of Connellsville.

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Sunday, June 23, 2013, 6:18 p.m.
 

State police on Sunday charged two men with killing a Fayette County woman whose body was found in the Youghiogheny River in Dunbar Township.

Craig Allen Rugg, 24, of Connellsville and Paul Jerome Bannasch, 24, of Uniontown are charged with homicide in the death of Margaret “Peggy Sue” Kriek, 52, of Connellsville, District Attorney Jack Heneks said.

A group of Boy Scouts from Westmoreland County discovered Kriek's nude body floating in the Youghiogheny River at 9:44 a.m. Saturday, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Trooper Nathaniel Lieberum. She was pronounced dead at 12:15 p.m. by a deputy coroner.

An autopsy performed on Sunday lists the cause of death as strangulation. In addition, Kriek had injuries to her face and body, a rib fracture and cuts on her legs, torso, heels and arms.

Kriek's sister, Barbara Leonard of Connellsville, said she last saw Kriek on Friday night, when she dropped her off at her residence on McCormick Avenue. She became concerned the following morning, she said, when Kriek did not answer her phone.

“I called and called,” Leonard said. “I thought she was just sleeping in, but then the Connellsville cops came and said the state police were looking for us, and that's how we found out.”

According to the affidavit, Rugg and Bannasch were observed drinking at Sidewinder's, a bar in Connellsville, at 11:30 p.m. Friday. At 12:19 a.m. Saturday, witnesses saw them walking with Kriek by the nearby Amtrak train platform, police said.

Police found some of Kriek's clothing near the train platform, as well as drag marks and blood that led to the river, according to the affidavit. They discovered additional clothing on the riverbank.

Leonard said witnesses have told her that the two men dragged her sister against her will from the bar.

“She was trying to be nice to those guys, and they were being mean to her,” Leonard said. “They literally dragged her out of the bar, grabbed her by her arms and dragged her right out. It's horrible, really horrible.

“We can't figure out why didn't somebody (at the bar) go over and say, ‘Stop being mean to her,' and take her off of them? That shows you how people don't want to get involved,” she said.

Leonard said her sister was a kind-hearted person who was always helping others and would have given the two men “whatever they wanted.”

“She would load up her own food and walk it to the other side of town to give to whoever called her, saying they needed food,” she said.

Leonard is asking anyone who saw her sister or the men at the bar to call state police.

“Please don't hesitate to call,” Leonard said. “If anyone has any information, please call them.”

In addition to homicide, Rugg and Bannasch are charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, unlawful restraint and abuse of a corpse.

Rugg and Bannasch were arraigned before Connellsville District Judge Ronald J. Haggerty Jr. They are being held in the Fayette County Prison without bond.

Liz Zemba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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