Two Fayette County men face charges in strangled woman's death

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Two Fayette County men are scheduled to appear in court this week on homicide charges after Pennsylvania State Police said they assaulted and strangled a Connellsville woman and then threw her body in the Youghiogheny River.

A Boy Scout troop from Larimer found a nude body, later identified as Margaret G. Kriek, 52, of Connellsville, partially submerged in the middle of the river on Saturday morning, state police in Uniontown said.

Paul J. Bannasch of Uniontown and Craig A. Rugg of Connellsville, both 24, are in the Fayette County Jail on charges of felony criminal homicide, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault and misdemeanor abuse of a corpse, unlawful restraint and criminal conspiracy.

State police said it appeared Ms. Kriek was killed in a grassy lot near Water Street in Connellsville just after midnight on Saturday and that drag marks and blood spatter patterns were seen from the lot to the river.

Ms. Kriek had bruises on her wrists, arms, legs and feet, as well as significant cuts to the head and face and possibly broken facial bones, police said.

According to a state police criminal complaint, the cause of death was strangulation.

Ms. Kriek's sister, Barbara Leonard, told police she last saw her alive about 9:30 p.m. Friday, when she drove Ms. Kriek to her apartment.

Several people reported seeing Mr. Bannasch and Rugg drinking inside Sidewinders bar in Connellsville about 11:30 p.m. Friday.

Bar patrons said they saw the two walking on Water Street near the Amtrak station with Ms. Kriek about 12:19 a.m., state police said.

Mr. Bannasch asked the bar customers in the parking lot if they knew where Ms. Kriek lived.

The patrons offered to alert bar security, but Mr. Bannasch told them not to, and said if they "see him on any files or on a wanted sign to say that they didn't see him or didn't know him," state police wrote in the complaint.

Ms. Kriek's clothing was found in a grass and gravel field at the Amtrak station and along the river bank,

Both men have had scrapes with the law, court records show. Rugg pleaded guilty late last year to a misdemeanor indecent assault of an unconscious person, and charges of rape and assault in that case were withdrawn.

Preliminary hearings for the men are scheduled for Thursday.


Correction, posted June 25, 2013: An earlier version of this story misstated the identity of the man who pleaded guilty to a charge of misdemeanor indecent assault of an unconscious person and the date of the guilty plea. It was Rugg and in 2012.

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Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1944 or on Twitter @borntolede.


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