Three people drove a man suffering from a possible heroin overdose from a Scranton home to Susquehanna County instead of a hospital and strangled him along the way, state police said.
After one of them strangled Joshua Rose, 21, of Luzerne, with a pair of jumper cables, police say the group dumped the body in a remote area of Hop Bottom.
Preston Layfield, 19, of Scranton, and Tyler Mirabelli, 22, of Clarks Summit, were arrested Monday on charges of aggravated assault and conspiracy. They said nothing as state troopers escorted them from the Dunmore barracks before their arraignment before Magisterial District Judge John Pesota at Lackawanna County Courthouse.
State police at Frackville took a Amanda Wayda, 20, of Shickshinny, into custody shortly after midnight Tuesday morning
The three face charges of aggravated assault and conspiracy but the counts may be amended after a coroner determines the cause and manner of Rose’s death. An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday.
Wayda contacted Jermyn police and said she witnessed a murder on Interstate 81 on Thursday, according to an arrest affidavit. It’s not clear when she contacted Jermyn police.
She told police she, Rose and Layfield were at her boyfriend’s Scranton home Thursday when Rose went to take a nap. When she went to check on him, she thought he was overdosing and called Mirabelli to take them to the hospital a few blocks away.
Instead, Mirabelli drove on I-81 north toward Susquehanna County with Rose in the passenger seat and Layfield sitting behind him, Wayda told police.
Wayda said while passing through Scott Twp. on I-81, Layfield began strangling Rose with a pair of jumper cables, ultimately killing him, according to the affidavit. She said she saw him breathing prior to the strangling.
With Rose still in the car, Mirabelli then stopped at a gas station at 7:07 p.m. Thursday. Prior to the stop, someone in the group put sunglasses and a hat on Rose, Wayda told police.
After leaving the gas station Wayda told police they drove for about 20 minutes before they dumped Rose’s body over an embankment near railroad tracks.
Police interviewed Layfield on Monday and he admitted to being involved in Rose’s death, police said. He told police Wayda first placed a plastic bag over the victim’s head before handing him the jumper cables and encouraging the strangling. He told police he strangled Rose for four minutes on I-81 north beginning near mile marker 199 in Scott Twp.
Police discovered jumper cables in Mirabelli’s truck Sunday.
Through interviews, state police managed to find Rose’s body Monday near railroad tracks off Glenwood Road in Hop Bottom.
At this point, the case is under investigation as a suspicious death, not a homicide. Charges could change once the Susquehanna County coroner determines the cause of death after an autopsy, scheduled for today.
“There’s a lot of charges that could follow but it would come after the autopsy confirms the cause and manner of death,” Cpl. Mark Prushinski said.
At Monday’s arraignment, Chief Deputy District Attorney Mariclare Hayes asked Judge Pesota to set high bail for both Mirabelli and Layfield, noting the severity of the circumstances and the possibility of additional charges.
All three are housed in Lackawanna County Prison awaiting further court proceedings. Magisterial District Judge John P. Pesota set bail for Layfield and Mirabelli at $700,000. Their preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 7 at 10:15 a.m.
It was unknown if Wayda had been arraigned yet as of press time for this newspaper