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Autopsy: Fatal stab wound struck aorta in woman's abdomen

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Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

An autopsy has determined that a Fayette County woman bled to death from a stab would that pierced the aorta in her abdomen, according to the coroner's office.

Lisa Faye Tupta, 49, died at 7:27 p.m. Monday at Uniontown Hospital. Police said Henry Clay Crawford, 56, of 227 Christmas St., North Union, kicked in the door to Tupta's residence in the Holiday Mobile Home Park Monday afternoon and stabbed her in the abdomen, neck and right hand.

Crawford was charged before North Union District Judge Wendy Dennis with homicide, aggravated assault and burglary. He is to be arraigned upon his release from UPMC Presbyterian hospital in Pittsburgh, where he was taken for treatment of a puncture wound in his neck, three stab wounds in his stomach and cuts on his hands, said state police Trooper Thomas Broadwater.

Police are still investigating how Crawford was injured, Broadwater said.

An autopsy determined Tupta bled to death from a “lethal stab wound” to the aorta in her abdomen, according to the Fayette County Coroner's Office. The manner of death is listed as homicide.

Tupta and Crawford were not dating, according to her stepfather, Wayne Crable, but court transcripts show she told a judge in November the two had previously been in a month-long intimate relationship. Tupta spoke during a hearing in which she was seeking a protection-from-abuse order against Crawford.

Crable, who lives in Uniontown with Tupta's mother, Margaret “Peggy” Crable, said the two knew each other but never dated because Tupta was not interested.

“He wanted more than just being a friend,” Crable said. “It got out of hand.”

Crable described Tupta as a caring person who was willing to help anyone, including Crawford's own mother, Vivian. Vivian Crawford lived with her son in the same mobile home park as Tupta, Crable said, and Tupta often ran errands or went to the store for the woman.

Tupta, according to a court transcript of the protection-from-abuse hearing before Senior Judge Ralph Warman, even took care of Vivian Crawford when Henry Crawford was in jail in Greene County for two months.

“That's the type of person she was,” Crable said. “She was just a kind-hearted person.”

The day Crawford was released from the Greene County Prison, on Nov. 6, he went to Tupta's mobile home and demanded she visit him at his mother's home, according to the hearing transcript.

“I told him I wasn't going to be coming over, that he was home now, he was able to take care of his mom,” Tupta told Warman, according to the transcript. Tupta testified she later heard a knock at her door and opened it only because she was expecting one of her sisters.

“ ... he was inside the screen door and then shoved his way inside,” Tupta told the judge. “He picked me up with his hand around my throat, picked me up off my feet ... slammed me down on the kitchen table ... slammed me up against that wall ... put me down on the floor and choked me until I eventually ... passed out.”

Warman granted the order for a three-year period.

Tupta had a love of animals, Crable said. She had dogs of her own, including several Chihuahuas and a Yorkie, and was known for helping stray dogs and cats in need.

“Anytime she found one in distress, she would save them,” Crable said. “She would never leave an animal out in the cold.”

One of Tupta's longtime friends, Cyndy Staszel of Scottdale, said she met Tupta in high school, after she had transferred in the middle of the school year from Connellsville to Laurel Highlands. Tupta, she said, befriended her immediately and helped smooth the transition for her.

“Lisa took me under her wing,” Staszel said. “Leaving your friends, and not knowing anyone, it was really bad, but Lisa welcomed me with open arms.”

Staszel said she kept in touch with Tupta as the two transitioned into adulthood, marrying and raising their own families. Tupta, she said, agreed to be the godmother to her daughter, Chelsea.

Tupta was always ready to help anyone, Staszel said.

“I don't care if you were stuck somewhere in the middle of the road in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night,” Staszel said. “If you called Lisa, she would come get you. It's just so hard to believe this happened to her.”

A Facebook group created in Tupta's memory, Lisa Tupta R.I.P., accumulated more than 900 members since her death.

Tupta's survivors include a son, Mason; her father, Lance; her mother, Margaret “Peggy” Crable and her husband, Wayne; and her sisters, Gina Kurcina of Florida and Justine Elaine Davis of Uniontown, according to her obituary.

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Kezmarsky Funeral Home in Uniontown.

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

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