Two people accused of murdering a Franklin woman before dumping and burning her body in a wooded area were in court Monday morning.
28-year-old Richard Kennedy, of Vandergrift, and 32-year-old Amanda Cypher, of Butler and Franklin, held for court.
Police say this was apparently over a botched drug deal.
Police believe Kennedy used a pair of brass knuckles and a heavy frying pan to beat to death 25-year-old Tausha Lee Baker, of Franklin, on Friday, October 27.
Cypher is accused of being involved in the crime and helping to cover it up.
Kennedy is facing charges of Criminal Homicide; Conspiracy To Commit Criminal Homicide; and Aggravated Assault, all first-degree felonies, Abuse of a Corpse, Tampering with or Fabricating Physical Evidence, both second degree misdemeanors.
D/A Shawn White added to the indictment against Kennedy, including Aggravated Assault, a second-degree felony, three first-degree misdemeanors that include Possession of an Instrument of Crime With Intent; Possession of a Weapon; Make Repairs/Sell/Etc. Offensive Weapons.
Cypher is facing charges of Conspiracy – Criminal Homicide and Aggravated Assault, both first-degree felonies, and Abuse of a Corpse and Tampering with or Fabricating Physical Evidence, both second-degree misdemeanors. A charge of Aggravated Assault, a second-degree felony was also added.
Explore Venango reports that the district judge heard testimony from 11 different people. Two men who lived in the house where Baker was killed testified, as well as Baker’s father, four investigators, and the Venango County coroner.
Testimonies from Bill Umstead, who was renting the house and Mark Daniels, who lived there, revealed that Kennedy and Cypher were at the residence looking for Baker. They said she sold them $200.00 worth of methamphetamine instead of crack cocaine. They were trying to get their money back.
He testified to drinking heavily with Daniels during the evening of Thursday, October 26. He said that he and Daniels got into an argument. Daniels said the argument was because Umstead wanted more vodka from the bottle they were drinking. Daniels told him he couldn’t have any, and Umstead decided to go upstairs and go to bed.
Later, Kennedy went upstairs and told Umstead that “if he needed anyone taken care of, he would do it” while brandishing the brass knuckles.
Umstead told Kennedy not to do anything to Daniels because it wasn’t a big deal.
Umstead said he closed and locked his bedroom door after Kennedy left. Then, he turned on the TV before falling asleep.
Umstead said he didn’t know if Baker had been at his house before he fell asleep.
Umstead testified that the next morning – Friday, October 27 – he woke up and heard voices downstairs. When he tried to go downstairs, Kennedy stopped him, telling him not to come down because “it’s not pretty.” Kennedy had told him, “I need time to clean up.”
Umstead said Kennedy had his hand wrapped in a rag, and there was a rag wrapped around his face. Umstead thought Kennedy was cooking meth because he had seen other people do that when they cooked meth.
However, Kennedy had not been cooking meth, according to Umstead. Umstead said he then went back to the bedroom, looked out the window, and saw Cypher with one foot in a “Jeep-type” vehicle and one foot still on the ground.
After Kennedy and Cypher left the residence, Umstead then came downstairs where he saw the refrigerator was moved, the garbage can overturned, and the air conditioner out of the window.
He asked Daniels, “Is that blood?” because he is supposedly color blind and wasn’t sure. Daniels said that it was blood. Umstead also saw a frying pan with a large dent in it in the kitchen sink. He said he saw blood on a closet door, floorboard frame, and a bloody handprint on a door. Umstead took the frying pan and threw it out into the yard.
He then walked to a nearby bar “After Hours” where he was for one to 1-1/2 hours. He then returned home and took a nap for awhile.
Umstead said he also saw a lot of blood under a toolbox, and he saw a red-colored stain on a towel that had been in the washer.
Umstead and Daniels said neither one of them heard anything during the time when the beating allegedly occurred.
Umstead testified that he told Daniels, “We gotta call the police. I think something bad happened here.”
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