ShareThis Page

Charges added against Crawford County man in gruesome slaying

| Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, 7:45 p.m.

MEADVILLE — Authorities have filed new charges — including first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse — against a man already jailed in the death of his daughter's longtime boyfriend, whose headless remains investigators believe were those found in a metal drum last month.

Richard Houy, 68, of Cambridge Springs, was arraigned on the new charges and faces a preliminary hearing Oct. 16. Online court records don't list an attorney for him.

Houy was charged with criminal homicide last week in the death of 55-year-old Gerald VanDyke, after a body — missing its head and hands — was found in a steel drum. Crawford County District Attorney Francis Schultz said he has no doubt the remains are VanDyke's, though results of DNA tests to confirm that were still pending.

State police on Thursday reported finding scrapped but “identifiable pieces” of VanDyke's 2003 Dodge pickup, which had not been seen since he was reported missing Sept. 15 by his longtime girlfriend, Tina Skelton, and her parents, Houy and his wife, Sandra.

Richard Houy became a suspect after police investigated two anonymous calls they received on Sept. 18, claiming VanDyke was leaving town and didn't want anyone to know where he was headed. When recordings of the calls were played for VanDyke's son, police were told the voice sounded like Houy's.

That led police to interview Houy, his wife and his daughter on Sept. 25, at which time Houy acknowledged making the calls but wouldn't explain why, police said in a criminal complaint. While his wife and daughter were being interviewed, Houy allegedly asked another trooper outside the Erie barracks whether he could go home and “get his affairs in order.”

“Richard Houy stated he wanted to see his family and go home and get his tools together because he knew he was going to jail for life,” according to the complaint.

Police said Houy initially told them he dumped VanDyke's body in a creek after he punched VanDyke during a dispute, who fell and hit his head. But police now believe VanDyke was fatally shot or stabbed with a hunting arrow, then partially dismembered with a chain saw Houy borrowed, based on information provided by his wife and daughter.

Schultz said he wouldn't rule out additional charges against Houy or others.

“We'll continue to investigate whether he had any assistance before, during and after” VanDyke's killing, Schultz said.

Sandra Houy did not immediately return a message left on her home answering machine Thursday. The Associated Press could not immediately locate a phone number for Skelton.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.