2 teens still on the loose in Beaver Falls killing
Two Beaver Falls teens wanted in connection with the fatal shooting of a young mother remained on the run Tuesday, investigators said.
“The police have checked with family members, known associates and went through the school to find their friends,” Beaver County District Attorney Anthony Berosh said. Marcus Velasquez and Todavia Cleckley, both 14 of Beaver Falls were the subjects. “So far, they haven't turned up.”
Beaver Falls police charged Velasquez with homicide and other crimes in the death Saturday of Kayla Peterson, 22, of Beaver Falls. Police charged Cleckley and Kyle Goosby Jr., 13, with conspiracy. Authorities arrested Goosby on Monday.
Police say Velasquez shot Peterson when she told him to get a job and stop trying to bum cigarettes outside her home on 13th Street. Police said the boys followed her fiance, William Bailey, home from J's News and yelled at him for cigarettes before she challenged them.
She left behind the daughter, 1, she had with Bailey.
“You'd think if they're only kids, they would be in custody,” said Peterson's stepfather, Wesley Chapman, 50, of New Sewickley. “Somebody is hiding them out in town.”
Defense attorneys not involved said family members often help suspects stay out of sight, at least until they can find legal help. Members of the Cleckley and Velasquez families could not be reached.
“In my experience, it's generally the ones closest to you that stick their necks out for you,” said Attorney Blaine Jones, who has represented clients in Beaver County, including members of the Cleckley family.
“In lower-income areas, the kids grow up a lot faster,” Jones said. “They don't have the means to get out of town. They don't have ways to circumvent law enforcement without help.”
About 26.2 percent of Beaver Falls' population lives below the poverty level, compared with 12.6 percent of the state's population, according to the Census Bureau.
Attorney Phillip DiLucente said it's better for the teens if they surrender.
“When you're dealing with children in particular, they may not even recognize mentally what has really happened,” DiLucente said. “The trigger person knew at least what their intent was, but the persons with him may not. They're probably scared. They're probably determined to stay on the lam, but it's best if they turn themselves in.”
Berosh said someone updated Cleckley's Facebook page to include a photo that appears to be the suspect brandishing guns the day after the shooting. Police said they used Facebook as part of their investigation, but an unidentified witness said Velasquez was the shooter and Cleckley was the boy with him who fled, according to the criminal complaint.
Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or firstname.lastname@example.org.